10 Tips to Clear the UPSC Mains Exam

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The UPSC Exam remains one of the most difficult exams in India. It takes a lot of hard work and time to prepare for this examination. The exam has three stages – UPSC Prelims, UPSC Mains, and UPSC Interview. These stages are equally important as they decide the final rank of the candidate.

In the case of Prelims, the marks are not considered for the final score. It is only a qualifying exam to appear for the UPSC Mains. The UPSC Mains is more difficult as it is subjective in nature. 

There are nine papers in this exam covering a wide range of topics under each subject. The questions are mostly opinion based which makes it important to know the topic inside and out. In this article, we will give a few tips for clearing the UPSC Mains Exam.

This is because hard work is necessary but combining it with smart work will do wonders for your preparation and eventually your result. Let us take a look at the top ten tips for acing the IAS Mains exam.

10 Tips to Clear UPSC Mains Exam

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1. Well Organised Strategy

The UPSC Mains exam is very tough as compared to the prelims. Consider these stages as a hierarchy which only increases the challenging intensity with every level. Many think that the competition is lower in mains which is true.

But the competition is even stronger than before because everyone is on the same level. The Mains have multiple subjects distributed over the nine papers. This makes it important for a candidate to follow an organized strategy.

You must have a blueprint in hand to structure your preparation over time. This will help you achieve your short-term preparation goals while keeping track of your performance. 

2. Syllabus Reading is Important

The UPSC Mains Syllabus is vast. It becomes hard for the candidates to remember all the topics listed. This is why candidates must keep going back to the syllabus so that you don’t miss out on any topic. The best way is to either write down the syllabus or take the print out.

You can keep this sheet in a file and tick mark the topics that you have finished. And the top to bottom strategy is even better while preparing. The topics at the start are usually the basics and when you reach the end, they become more complex.

This is the reason why you must always start from the top. This will make some time for your current affairs preparation as well. 

3. Don’t Miss out on Current Affairs 

The current affairs are a crucial part of the mains exam. Under no circumstances, the candidates should miss the current affairs. They are important because the mains depend on the opinion-based question.

Reading the current affairs for UPSC will help you connect dots in your answers during the exam. If there is a question about the role of religion in India, connecting the current Sabarimala Case with your answer will definitely fetch you more marks.

And not just this issue, there are several ongoing issues like – Jammu and Kashmir, Hathras case, Farmers Bill, and more. These case studies will make your answer stand out and give a good impression on the examiner. 

4. Writing Practice

The mains paper is subjective based which means you just don’t choose the correct answer. You go back to your preparation, memorize the correct answer, and then write it. This is a time-consuming process.

While you cannot control the time of remembering the correct answer, the tie taken to write is in your hands. Practicing the answer writing beforehand will improve your speed, structure your answer, and will be easier to read and check as well.

Candidates get approx 8 minutes to write an answer and with good practice, this challenging task is achievable. The bottom line is writing practicing will go a long way for the exam. 

5. Prioritize the Compulsory Papers

The GS and Optional Paper are harder compared to the essay and language paper. This makes many candidates ignore the essay and language paper which becomes a drawback in the long run. These papers also have a role in the final marks or the rank.

And because they are easier to study, proper preparation will improve your final rank for sure. The final rank considers even 0.5 of marks and the essay and language papers are your keys to the UPSC doors.

The candidates must divide her attention equally across all the papers. Taking any paper lightly is a risk for the final score. Looking at the previous year’s question papers will also help. 

6. Choose the Right Optional

Choosing the right UPSC optional should be a well-thought decision. The right choice decides your score. This is the only advantage that you have over other candidates. It is a good idea to look at all the UPSC optional subjects and syllabus before choosing.

This will help you recognize the potential subjects for yourself. The Best UPSC Optional Subjects are based on different criteria that you must go through once to make the right choice. 

7. Solve Mock Papers 

Practicing is an important element of UPSC Preparation. And the best way to test yourself is to solve mock papers.

They will give insight into what the main papers will look like and give you a check on your preparation. Data Flair is offering free UPSC Mock papers that will definitely boost your UPSC preparation. 

8. Revision is must

Covering the entire syllabus before the UPSC exam is tough. But following proper UPSC strategy will definitely help you cover everything on time with revision. The revision will help you reinforce the concepts you learned earlier.

As a result, you will be much faster in solving the answer during the final exam. Though reading the notes, again and again, may become boring. You can always take a small revision test by Data Flair UPSC quizzes based on different subjects. 

9. Stay Calm

The UPSC preparation is one exhausting process, both physically and emotionally. This makes it very important to keep a sound mind and a fit body to achieve your goals. The stress will only weaken your morale and preparation.

Don’t let months of preparation go waste. Meditate and exercise regularly to stay on track while preparing. 

10. Staying focused

Don’t deviate from your goals. We all know how difficult it is to clear the UPSC exams. But if you are smart enough to clear the prelims, the right preparation will definitely give you positive results in mains as well. Keep yourself motivated and keep working hard for your goals.

This last tip will help you follow all the other advice that we gave above. Focus and be confident, what’s meant to be, will be. 


UPSC is a tough one to crack but the right preparation is the key. The above tips are based on the candidate’s experience and knowledge of the exam. They will help you prioritize and structure out your preparation plan for the exam.

Following them is a good idea to improve your score in the exams and also to remain sane during the preparation. This is to make sure that your hard work does not go waste and you are able to achieve your dreams.

The UPSC candidates will benefit from reading this article for sure. Don’t miss out on the points mentioned above while preparing. 

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