The first and most significant stage of the examination, Preliminary Examination is nothing but screening test to shortlist serious and focused aspirants for second stage Mains Examination. In the beginning, some candidates look first at Preliminary examination and wish to know the minimum time required for an effective preparation.
The new-look Preliminary examination has witnessed four editions in this format.
After looking at the papers of Civil Services Examination 2011-2015, it gives an impression that it is manageable in the given time by UPSC and even for many candidates who start preparing for examination after notification, it should not pose some major problem.
UPSC has formulated the pattern and syllabus of Preliminary Examination after a lot of research and consideration.
So, UPSC feels, the candidates aspiring to become Civil Servant should be able to prepare for the examination in the given time.
General Studies Paper I has nothing new except some small alteration of few constituents. Rather, it has become easier from the previous edition of Prelims as an important constituent General Mental Ability (GMA) happens to find place in Paper II now making it convenient.
General StudiesPaper II (Aptitude Test) has some constituents which are generic in nature and more predictable.Since this has been made qualifying, there is not much to fear about it.
More than anything else, practice is the key to develop speed and accuracy.
After looking at the question papers, tell me how much you need to read in Mathematics or say English to comprehend Comprehension passages. All you need is to brush up what all you studied in school. It is no rocket science and is more to do with common sense and presence of mind.
Understand the importance of Preliminary Examination and complete exam-plan
Actually, UPSC has made the Preliminary Examination simple and relatively easier and that has led to stiff competition. Moreover, these changes at Preliminary Examination level have attracted brilliant, talented candidates with high/professional degrees to think about ‘Civil Services’ as a fascinating career which has made environment more challenging.
Civil Services Examination is a big task and looking at the stiff competition and chances of success, actual preparation for this examination should start at least one year before you seriously plan to take your first attempt.
I still maintain one who has been an avid reader of newspapers and preparing for last one year for this examination can always prepare the Paper I and II with newly added constituent in routine and can reach the level, this examination entails.
But, at the same time, I would like to remind you that your aim is career in Civil Services and not just cracking the Prelims.
Looking at emerging requirements; you need to adopt 'integrated approach' for an effective preparation and Main Examination oriented study-plan would make things uncomplicated to handle as far as Preliminary Examination is concerned.
Paper I (General Studies)
Paper II (Aptitude Test)