Why UPSC CSE Aspirants Should Prioritize Previous Year Questions!

“Learn from the Past, succeed in the Future”: Why UPSC CSE Aspirants Should Prioritize Previous Year Questions!

As the saying goes, “Success leaves clues,” in the realm of UPSC CSE preparation, those clues are embedded in the PYQs.

Amidst the sea of strategies, there exists a golden rule that every serious aspirant must adhere to – solving Previous Year Question (PYQ) papers.

Practicing PYQs is not just a recommendation; it’s a fundamental necessity for every aspirant.

Why is this super important? It’s like getting an early glimpse into the thoughts of the UPSC examiner.

Ask yourself:

What patterns do I notice in these questions?

How does the examiner approach different topics?

Why are certain topics consistently highlighted every year?

Let’s explore why solving PYQs is so important. It’s not just about looking back; it’s about learning things that can help you succeed in the future.

Because it as a special pass to see what happens behind the scenes of the UPSC exam – understanding what examiners want and adjusting your preparation accordingly.

“How do insights from Previous Year Questions elevate your UPSC CSE preparation?”

Understand the Trends in UPSC Exams:


Take note of key topics in the economy, such as Inflation, Monetary Policy, and Exchange Rate.

 Ensure a comprehensive understanding of these three main topics and their associated sub-topics, as they are frequently asked in the exam.

The money multiplier in an economy increases with which one of the following?

(a) Increase in the cash reserve ratio

(b) Increase in the banking habit of the population

(c) Increase in the statutory liquidity ratio

  1. d) Increase in the population of the country

The same question appeared in the prelims both in 2019 and then again in 2021.

While most of the times, repetition of various themes and their subtopics is a common phenomenon.

The Chairman of public sector banks are selected by the

(a) Banks Board Bureau


(b) Reserve Bank of India

(c) Union Ministry of Finance

(d) Management of concerned bank

This question was asked in the prelims of UPSC CSE 2019.

With reference to the ‘Banks Board Bureau (BBB)’, which of the following statements are correct?

  1. The Governor of RBI is the Chairman of BBB.
  2. BBB recommends for the selection of heads for Public Sector Banks.
  3. BBB helps the Public Sector Banks in developing strategies and capital raising plans.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Similar question has been asked again in UPSC CSE Prelims of 2022.


In mains, its commonly seen that major theme from the syllabus for General studies and Optional, have been asked repeatedly.

For example, Separation of powers as a theme has been asked multiple times in the exam.

Judicial Legislation is antithetical to the doctrine of separation of powers as envisaged in the Indian Constitution. In this context justify the filing of large number of public interest petitions praying for issuing guidelines to executive authorities. (2020)

Do you think that constitution of India does not accept principle of strict separation of powers rather it is based on the principle of ‘checks and balance’? Explain. (2019)

Certain topics consistently appear in the Essay section every year. Aspirants should focus on preparing for these subjects as they present an accessible route to scoring well in the Mains Exam. Some of these themes include:

Democracy, Education, Women, Science and Technology.


We’ve acknowledged the importance of analyzing previous year questions. Now, let’s explore how to do it effectively:

Follow these straightforward steps for UPSC Previous Year Questions analysis:

  • Choose the topic for study from the relevant Prelims and Mains paper. (For instance: Parliament and Legislature)
  • Note the number of questions on the topic “Parliament ” in UPSC Prelims and Mains from 2013 to 2023.
  • Scrutinize question patterns, paying attention to details.
  • Assess the annual weightage given to the topic.
  • Opt for study sources, focusing on NCERTs and reference books.
  • Minimize sources for topics with lower marks and emphasize thorough coverage for high-weightage topics.
  • Evaluate the topic’s importance in both Prelims and Mains, and compile notes accordingly.
  • Enhance your notes with valuable insights from reputable sources like The Hindu and Indian Express and institutes like Tathastu ICS current affairs.
  • Regularly revise and practice previous year questions, seeking feedback for improvement.



  1. From where can I download the previous year questions of UPSC CSE?

All the previous year questions can be downloaded from the official website of the UPSC, from the following link https://upsc.gov.in/examinations/previous-question-papers.

  1. Do the questions get repeated for prelims and mains from the previous year questions?

While the exact questions are not repeated for prelims and mains, there might be similarities in the pattern, type of questions, or themes.

  1. Do the questions get repeated for optional subject from the previous year questions?

Yes, some questions are repeated in optional subject papers.

  1. Does practicing previous year questions alone suffice for UPSC CSE preparation?

Practicing previous year exam papers can give you insights into crucial aspects of the exam. However, UPSC CSE is one of the toughest exams and requires a ton of practice and commitment. One can elevate their UPSC preparation by enrolling in the Tathastu ICS test series – a reputable institute offering rigorous practice tailored to the exam’s demands.


In a nutshell, looking at past year questions (PYQs) is like finding a map to succeed in UPSC CSE. By understanding what worked before, PYQs become super important, giving us a peek into what the examiner thinks. It’s like having a special key to unlock the UPSC exam secrets. By integrating insights from these questions, we not only build knowledge but also bolster our confidence, making us exam-ready.

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