How to Start IAS Preparation from Zero Level?

The UPSC Civil Services Exam is one of the most prestigious exams in India. It is attempted by lakhs of people across the country every year. However, only a tiny fraction of them are able to fulfil their IAS ambitions. The IAS exam is not only challenging in terms of the length of its syllabus, but it is also daunting because of its highly unpredictable nature.

In this article, you can get all the information you need on how to prepare for the UPSC exam, and change your destiny.

The UPSC exam cannot be cracked by just being a bookworm. The last stage in the UPSC exam process is the personality test round, wherein the UPSC board would interview the candidate for assessing his/her personality and its suitability for a career in the services. This requires an all-round development of the individual apart from academic knowledge. And, even in academics, the focus should not merely be on finishing the syllabus, but on constantly acquiring information and insight into the latest happenings/current affairs within the country and beyond.

Read on for 15 magical UPSC study tips that can help you prepare for the IAS exam and successfully clear it.

How to prepare for IAS exam? – UPSC Preparation Tips

This section lists important UPSC preparation tips for beginners. These tips aim at helping aspirant devise a well-planned preparation strategy for the upcoming UPSC 2023 exam.

There are 15 important tips mentioned below:

Tip #1: Prepare Yourself

  • Before trying to understand how to start preparing for UPSC at home, you should prepare yourself for the journey.
  • Before starting your preparation, prepare mentally and physically for the examination. Set goals and devote time effectively.
  • Understand the UPSC exam pattern thoroughly, and pace your IAS preparation accordingly.
    1. The UPSC exam has three stages — prelims mains and the interview.
    2. To know more about the UPSC Prelims exam, click here.
    3. To know more about the UPSC Mains exam, click here.
  • If you are working and have decided not to quit your job, analyse how you would devote time for studies and chart a plan.
  • Today, with technology like the internet, it is possible to balance both preparation and a job with ease.

Tip #2: Make a Time Table

  • To become an IAS officer, it is necessary to be like an officer with a well-organized daily routine.
  • You should set a comfortable timetable before your preparation and stick to it.
  • Making a timetable will ease your preparation and make it more streamlined. With deadlines, you would work better and complete the syllabus faster.
  • Analyse the IAS Subjects included in the syllabus and comprehend your strengths and weaknesses

Tip #3: Know the UPSC Syllabus

  • The syllabus is the soul of any exam. Knowing the syllabus is the foremost thing to do before you go through the books.
  • The UPSC has provided the syllabus for the Civil Services Preliminary and Main examination in an elaborate manner.
  • Aspirants should understand and follow the syllabus for UPSC civil service examination. Knowing the syllabus will help you to choose relevant study materials, prioritize the subjects, etc.

Click here for the complete UPSC Syllabus.

Tip #4: Newspaper Reading/Current Affairs for IAS

  • The newspapers are the most important aspect of the IAS exam.
  • If you do not read the daily newspaper or follow the daily news for the IAS exam, you cannot hope to clear this exam.
  • The questions asked in the civil services exam are directly or indirectly connected with current affairs. Hence, it is very important to follow the relevant news items in your daily newspaper. You can go through the BYJU’S Comprehensive News Analysis that gives the exam-relevant news items in a concise manner.
  • You can also visit our YouTube Channel for a detailed video analysis of the daily news. Watch the news analysis videos here.

Also, read ⇒ How To Make Notes From Newspaper For UPSC Current Affairs?

Tip #5: Choosing Optional

  • The optional subject accounts for 500 marks in the UPSC final tally.
  • Hence, you should choose an optional subject wisely and after a thorough think-through of the pros and cons of the subjects, you have in mind.
  • Some of the factors to keep in mind before selecting an optional are:
    • Interest in the subject
    • Prior knowledge in it/academic background
    • Overlap with the GS papers
    • Availability of coaching
    • Availability of study material

For detailed guidance on how to select an optional subject, click here.

Tip #6: NCERTs

  • The NCERT textbooks from classes six to twelve play a very significant role in IAS exam preparation.
  • Aspirants can get basic concepts and theories from NCERT textbooks.
  • These books provide the information very coherently. Moreover, they are reliable too as the source is the government itself.
  • In previous years UPSC has asked questions directly from NCERT textbooks.
  • So, NCERTs are undoubtedly the best books to begin your IAS preparation with. Get a complete list of NCERTs needed for the UPSC exam here.
  • Apart from the NCERTs, you should also follow a few other advanced textbooks.

For more on which UPSC Books to follow, click here.

Tip #7: Making Notes

  • It is helpful to make short notes during UPSC preparation.
  • Since the UPSC syllabus is very vast, it helps to keep track of the portions covered and also serves as a ready-reckoner for revision.
  • You can have separate files or notebooks for separate subjects. Files are preferred by many since they help adding notes to a topic easier. This is especially helpful in the case of adding current affairs-related news to a particular topic.

Tip #8: Answer Writing Practice

  • The IAS main exam papers are descriptive in nature.
  • It is mainly about testing your analytical, critical, and communicative abilities.
  • It demands you to think with conceptual clarity and organize your views, perceptions, and thoughts in a flawless manner.
  • Another thing to be kept in mind is the time and space constraints in the answer booklet.
  • Therefore, candidates have to answer the questions quickly and effectively and in minimum words.
  • This is not possible without adequate answer writing practice.

Check sample UPSC answers here.

Tip #9: Solving Previous Years’ UPSC Question Papers

  • Previous question papers are the most reliable sources of UPSC pattern, difficulty level and question type.
  • You can judge the trends in the UPSC exam paper easily.
  • It will also help you understand which areas are the most important in a particular subject.
  • Lastly, it is a good source of self-assessment in your IAS preparation.

Check out the previous year question papers of UPSC here.

Tip #10: Mock Test Series

  • Self-assessment is an essential part of UPSC preparation.
  • It can help civil service aspirant in realizing and learning from mistakes, shaping what approach they need to follow in continuing the preparation and identifying strengths and weaknesses.
  • It is highly recommended to join mock test series, especially if you are preparing from home. This will help you to assess yourself and help you further.

Tip #11: Important Government Resources

  • Your ultimate aim when you are taking the IAS exam is to work for the Indian government.
  • Naturally, there are many government sources you can rely on during your preparation. Government websites like the PIB, PRS, and national television programmes featured on the Rajya Sabha TV are very helpful. We cover important PIB articles every day. Click here for a Gist of PIB.
  • We also cover important Gist of Rajya Sabha TV programmes for UPSC. You can read the Gist of RSTV articles here.

Tip #12: Revision

  • Revision is very important when you are facing an exam as tough as the UPSC exam.
  • Since the UPSC syllabus is vast and diverse, covering multifarious subjects, it is natural to forget things that you had studied earlier.
  • To avoid this, timely revision is a must.

Tip #13: UPSC Interview

  • As mentioned before, the final stage in the UPSC exam process is the UPSC interview or Personality Test.
  • This is an important stage in the process and here, it is something more than academics that will help you.
  • You will be assessed on qualities such as diplomatic skills, communication skills, presence of mind, reaction to stress, etc.
  • You will also be asked questions about your interests, hobbies, education and work experience, if any. So, you have to brush up on these aspects.

Tip #14: Relevant Magazines

  • Magazines like Yojana, Kurukshetra, Economic & Political Weekly, etc. are very important for the IAS exam.
  • They contain important information on topics like polity, governance, agriculture, economy, etc.
  • You can get a gist of the Yojana, Kurukshetra and EPW magazines in our website.

Tip #15: Stay Positive

  • The most important aspect of the entire UPSC journey is to stay positive.
  • There are times when it can get quite overwhelming and you will feel depressed.
  • Remove negative thoughts from your head and work on.

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