The UPSC Civil Services examination is one of the most prestigious and toughest exams in the world. Every year more than 8 lakh aspirants apply for this exam but only a few hundred of them can clear it. Its vast syllabus and dynamic approach make it even more challenging. In this article, we will discuss everything that you need to know on how to prepare for the UPSC exam and achieve your dream of becoming a civil servant.
Get the basics right
The Civil Services Examination is conducted in three stages; Prelims, Mains, and Personal Interview. The minimum educational qualification required is graduation from the any recognized university in India. The age limit is 21-32 years (relaxation as per government norms) and the maximum number of attempts allowed is 6 for general category students
- The most important thing before going for this decision is to analyze each aspect of IAS preparation right from the exam pattern, syllabus to the previous year’s questions papers. Owing to its highly unpredictable nature it is not a sure-shot that the candidate may get success in one go and, in many instances, this process becomes lethargic due to repeated failures.
- Discussing with seniors/mentors and those who have prepared for the CSE will also provide you with an overall insight into the examination and it will help you in adopting a proper strategy, planning, and executing accordingly.
Play with the Right strategy:
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” — Michael E. Porter
Success in this examination depends on making the right decisions at the right times. Right Strategy and guidance play a very important role in the selection. A strategy is like a make or break factor that will determine your chances of selection in the IAS examination.
- Syllabus: The first and foremost step is to thoroughly know the UPSC CSE syllabus. Aspirants should mug up the entire syllabus. Clarity of the nature and scope of the syllabus will help in understanding what to read and what not to read. The questions asked in the exam are always within the syllabus and hence keeping a close eye on the syllabus is fundamental.
- Reading NCERTs: As a beginner of UPSC preparation, your foremost priority should be to finish the NCERTs first. NCERTs will help you to develop your basic knowledge and understanding of various issues related to different subjects. NCERTs provide the base for your UPSC preparation.
- Reading Daily Newspaper: The newspaper is like Bible/Koran/Geeta and is one of the most crucial IAS preparation tips for beginners. One should read at least one newspaper daily to develop a very basic understanding of the day-to-day happenings around the globe and continuously improve this knowledge by interlinking these topics in answer writing. With the increasing weight of current affairs questions in prelims every year, regular newspaper reading gives you an upper hand in both papers. It will help you stay updated with current affairs.
- Previous Years’ Questions: Aspirants must go through the previous years’ question papers thoroughly to get a clear understanding of the examination pattern. It will help in getting a better perspective of the types of questions asked and identifying the best sources for preparation.
- Practice mock tests: For prelims, practicing mock tests and for mains daily answer writing practice is very important. One should join a good test series for regular practice of the complete series to cover the whole syllabus. These mock tests not only help in preparing for the exam but also help in learning time management.
- Choose your optional wisely: Choosing the correct Optional Subject for clearing this exam is very important. You should choose your optional very carefully taking into account your educational background, familiarity and interest in the subject, syllabus, availability of good resources, and coaching classes.
- Discipline is a key to success: Staying disciplined with your studies and timetable is very crucial for success. Discipline is like taking homeopathic medicine. It will take time to produce the results and while following you are going to face the pain and irritation but as the time progresses you will see different changes inside you. These changes will be an integral part of your personality gradually.
- Gain experience not shared in books: Experience is a very expensive asset, yet it’s crucial for your UPSC preparation strategy. Apart from reading books listen to useful programs like RSTV debates, take a trip to a rural area, understand how basic functionaries work, interact with as many people as you can from different socio-cultural backgrounds to enrich your experience. Explore the questions that you confront on day to day basis. This will make your answers unique.
- Health First:Last but not the least; you should take proper care of your health. IAS exam is the game of mind over matter. Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Try following an exercise regime like doing yoga, playing some sports, and even meditating. This will help you to avoid burnout and keep you focused on your studies.
- Daily, weekly, monthly schedule:
- Make a proper schedule by prioritizing the things, for instance, you will finish this subject or chapter in this much time or week. Our Brain does not act properly until and unless it is being commanded clearly. This clarity will come when you make a proper schedule by writing it down on paper.
- The secret mantra is to Revise, Revise, and Revise! Studying is important, but so is revision. Preparing for the UPSC will require you to remember a lot of information which is nothing less of a herculean task. So, how will you ensure that you retain all that you’ve studied? The answer is a simple revision! This is even more important for static subjects which have a definite syllabus.
- Make a personalized schedule keeping the above aspects of preparation in attention and start this adventurous journey. Remember that UPSC CSE is not just a goal but a journey, not a 100-meter race but a marathon. Your commitment, dedication, and perseverance will pay off to you one day definitely.
All the best!
Busting Myths about preparation for UPSC:
- Reading a Wide range of Books for IAS preparation
This is a general myth that the more books you read, the higher is your probability of sailing through. Absolutely no. CSE is not a test of knowledge but an application you already know. One must better read one book four times than four books one time.
- Becoming Monk during preparation
You need to be a monk when preparing. No, you only need to be self-disciplined. You don’t have to go in hibernation. All you need is self-control. People who love you are your springboards to bounce back when you feel low. Your parents, friends, and loved ones play an important part in your success journey. Yes, you should not socialize that often as it distracts but some unwinding only eases the stress. Also, you don’t need to completely give up your hobbies but manage with your study schedule to keep you feel light during this long journey.
- Only highly intelligent students with an excellent academic record are successful at the CSE
How does one measure intelligence? Can we call someone highly intelligent just because he/she scores 100% in Mathematics or Physics at the 10th Class level? Or do we call a student who has consistently secured a first division intelligent? The fact is the notion of intelligence is susceptible to varied definitions Many students have cleared this examination with a modest academic background.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the right time to start preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination?
- There is no hard and fast rule of timing to prepare for this examination. But, if you have the right guidance and you know the demand for this examination you can crack this examination in the first attempt as well. However, starting the preparation as early as possible is being suggested to understand the whole dynamics of this examination and prepare oneself for every section of the examination.
- What should be my day-to-day UPSC preparation strategy?
- As a beginner, you should ideally give 7 to 8 hours depending upon the work ethic in starting time. This schedule should comprise of daily reading of Newspaper followed by GS subjects and optional subject. You can bifurcate the timing of both portions according to the need of your subject.
- It should be remembered that at least one day should be given in a week for the revision so that apart from incorporating new information daily you can collect the information in sequence to utilize it properly before the exact battle day.
- How to tame mental tiredness and boredom?
- Feeling mental tiredness and lethargy is quite common in every aspirant and you should not worry about these things. As a human being, you will have mood swings and you will feel; why I am preparing for this examination and what I will get by doing such hard work and making your near and dear ones suffer as well in case your family depends upon you. The most appropriate advice will be to not think about the result too much and think about the process as the saying goes” think about the journey rather than the destination”.
- You can also go out for a movie with your friends from time to time or you can spend some quality time with your family. Playing some sports or routine exercise like yoga, cycling, meditation will help you to avoid burnout. These little things play a very important role in changing the mode and once again you can start studying with 2x energy.
- What should I do to stop dithering and delaying my priorities regarding the Civil Services Examination preparation?
- The only thing you can do is to have rigorous self-discipline. But, this discipline will only come when you are crystal clear in your thought process as to why you are preparing for this examination and how far have you come in this process. As it is being said that think about a day at a time and piece by piece and drop by drop you will reach the place where you want to be.
- In terms of prioritizing the things think like; what is more important your dream or any work that will drive you away from your dream. So, keep yourself agile all the time in learning new things and developing new habits that can be helpful for your dream.
At last, I would say that “your limitation is only your imagination” and success doesn’t come by remaining there in your comfort zone. So, go and grab this opportunity that you have got and make your parents, teachers proud of you, go and get the success as the world is yours. Like in the words of Swami Vivekananda “Arise awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. Good luck……
If you have joined CHAHAL ACADEMY, just follow the curriculum of the batch, you will reach the destination. If you are starting on your own, begin by following the initial steps.
- Analysis of previous question papers
- Understanding of Syllabus
- Read a good newspaper daily preferably The Hindu or Indian Express
- Read all basic NCERTs before reading reference books
- Reading of basic study material/reference books
- Read YOJANA and KURUKSHETRA magazine monthly
- Start writing-This will be the deciding factor in the Mains
Let us analyze the critical areas according to their weightage in IAS-UPSC Exam.
- GS Based Marks= GS Prelims, 200 marks + GS Mains, 1000 marks + Essay, 250 marks (Essay means Mains GS and writing style) + Interview, 275 marks (It means Mains GS and communication style) = 1725 marks
- Optional Based Marks = 500 marks
- Aptitude based Marks = Prelims Aptitude = 200 marks
When to start preparation
- One should start preparation around eight or nine months before the exam.
- If you are going to prepare immediately after graduation, then don’t waste time, start immediately after your final exam.
- If you are going to study while working, it is possible but starts earliest. Don’t delay to start otherwise you will experience a time crunch later.
- If you are preparing during graduation, a generalized plan cannot be suggested, so discuss personally with us to evolve an individual plan.
What is required to get success in IAS-UPSC exam
- Critical self-assessment
- Patience and Self-confidence
- Good writing practice
- Basic command over English and Aptitude
- Good grasp over current affairs
- Healthy competitions and feedbacks
- Quality material and guidance
- Devoted study
IAS/UPSC PREPARATION WITH JOB
Impossible is nothing and neither is the Civil Services Examination
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN IN THIS ARTICLE?
- How to prepare for IAS while working?
- A different perspective on how being a working professional actually puts you in an advantageous position.
- Tips on how a working professional can ace the Civil Services Examination.
SOME OF THE PROBLEMS FACED BY THE WORKING PROFESSIONALS
- No strategy
- Shortage of time
- Mental stress
- Lack of energy for studies
- Inability to start the UPSC preparation.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR IAS EXAM WHILE WORKING?
IAS WITH JOB: MYTH VS REALITY
UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered an extraordinarily “arduous” task that can be cracked by people who are born toppers, those who study day and night (24×7 hours), and have no social life. For a working professional who is believed to have very little time to study, UPSC CSE is considered nearly impossible.
However, in reality, there lie several plus points for a working professional if he is preparing for the Civil Services Examination.
Dr. Shena Aggarwal, a former UPSC topper was working while preparing for UPSC, so it is neither new nor unbelievable for a working professional to understand that s/he can prepare well and better than others for the Civil Services Examination.
NO TIME FOR DEMOTIVATION:
A UPSC aspirant who is also a working professional would have a lot to do both professionally and academically. He would have no time to feel dull, lazy, pathetic, unpleasant, and other bad vibes which a full-time UPSC aspirant has to go through.
She/he would always be in work mode, filled with confidence, and always stay motivated. This way s/he can counter the most powerful factor which leads to several failures in the UPSC examination.
UPSC IS NOT A COMPETITION FOR THEM
A working professional would always see Civil Services Examination as a board exam rather than a tough competitive one. S/he would have no time to be afraid of the enormous numbers that sit for the CSE exam every year.
UPSC would always be a platform for them to unlock their hidden potential and study for the examination in a comprehensive manner. Their ultimate aim is to give their best to harness the best results. Therefore, they would give their least attention to unnecessary apprehensions.
THEIR HEART AND SOUL BELONGS TO THE CIVIL SERVICES EXAMINATION
Work is Worship. For a working professional who is also preparing for UPSC, study, and work, both are his/her topmost priority. He would always be very clear on why he wanted to clear the UPSC examination. S/he would always study with utmost dedication with no second thoughts or plans in mind. A working professional would always have a laser-like focus which is crucial to clear this examination.
NO WORRIES FOR A WORKING PROFESSIONAL
A working professional would be financially secure and independent. He would not have to worry about his future and does not have to be dependent on others for his daily bread. He has several backup plans in his lot so he can freely focus on his UPSC preparation with a positive attitude.
THEY CAN COMPLETE THEIR TARGETS IN TIME
Working professionals are skilled in meeting their targets on time. They can make use of this skill of theirs in meeting daily study targets in UPSC preparation and thus never feel left behind and burdened. This will keep away the unnecessary stress from him.
THEY HAVE A WELL-PLANNED STRATEGY
A unique strategy is a must-have to clear the UPSC examination. Working professionals excel in planning and organizing and thus finishing the task in time. They can apply the same in their UPSC preparation and devise a strategy suitable to their time constraints.
THEY VALUE TIME
Working professionals understand that they have a very limited amount of time for completing the entire syllabus. So, they try to utilize every minute they get for studying the most in the minimum amount of time.
Working professionals are not unnecessarily concerned about the ranks, cadres, or services they will be allotted. So, their complete focus is on the preparation part.
A JOB BREAKS THE MONOTONY
Studying 24×7 becomes monotonous after a while. Efficiency keeps on decreasing year after year. Generally, 2 good attempts are given with full energy. It becomes difficult after it. If you are working you meet new people outside the UPSC universe and it helps in breaking the monotony and freshens up your mind. this way you can restart your UPSC journey with the same level of confidence.
UPSC CSE TIMETABLE/STUDY PLAN FOR WORKING PROFESSIONALS :
- Every minute counts: Utilise the best out of every minute you get in your studies. Utilizing every minute is more important than utilizing an hour.
- Be strong. Don’t feel guilty comparing yourself to a 21-year-old sitting in his room supposedly studying for 25 hours a day.
- Learn to manage your time efficiently, you can’t prepare for CSE even if you leave your job because it’s all about efficiency in time management.
- Remember the purpose and never get carried away by the comforts of the job.
- Stick to “MINIMUM MATERIAL, MAXIMUM VALUE”
- Get enrolled in a test series.
- WEEKENDS are your most productive assets. Say NO to any sort of extension of office work. Switch off your phone on Friday night and switch it on only on Monday morning (At least don’t take calls).
- Weekends are also your weekdays. The study is your work”
Everything above will work ONLY if one can spend at least 3–4 hours daily and 20–24 hours during weekends (Sat/Sun). The whole effort is to strike a balance between work and study.
Working and preparing at the same time can be a great fulfilling experience in life.