10 Effective Tips for IAS Preparation at Home

May 15, 2024
IAS Preparation

Table of Contents

UPSC, the notion that it is the toughest examination of all. The Civil Services Examination (CSE) is a national competitive examination in India. It is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit candidates for higher Civil Services of the Indian Government. It includes the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS).

Generally, it is known as the UPSC Examination. It consists of three phases – a preliminary exam, the main exam, and a personality test which is an interview. Being a Civil Service officer is itself a prestigious position. To claim these heights, immense hard work is the key.

Have a look at the last 6 years’ UPSC Statistics given below. It will give you an understanding of the examination success rate.

Year Candidates appeared for Prelims Candidates qualified Prelims Candidates qualified Mains Candidates called for an Interview Candidates Selected
2022 11,52,000 13,090 2529 2529 749
2021 5,08,619 9,214 1,824 1,824 685
2020 4,82,770 10,564 2,053 2,053 761
2019 5,68,282 11,845 2,034 2,034 927
2018 4,93,972 10,419 1,994 1,994 812
2017 4,56,625 13,300 2,568 2,568 990

Source: ClearIAS, News18

Preparing for an examination is itself a full-time job. An aspirant should study for an average of 6-8 hours to crack the exam. The examination covers a vast syllabus but with the help of a systematized study plan aspirants can go with their IAS preparation within a year.

Tips for IAS Exam Preparation at Home

You can easily carry out your UPSC IAS preparation at home if you work diligently. It is not mandatory to join coaching centers to prepare for the UPSC exam. With prolonged improvements in technological fields, you can go with your preparation on your own.

ias preparation

We have some tips for IAS aspirants, which would help them with IAS preparation at home.

1. Know Your Goal

Discover yourself and know your true potential. Prepare yourself for the upcoming endeavors and drive towards achieving the title of IAS. Focus on the goal and remain constant with it. Accelerate yourself for the journey and start devoting time to it effectively. Fix your gaze on your desired achievement and convince yourself for reaching it.

2. Understand the Syllabus

Without a proper understanding of the syllabus, you won’t be able to proceed. Get a thorough knowledge of the entire UPSC syllabus and prepare for IAS exam accordingly.

Find out the subjects you are good at and the ones which require more effort. Until and unless you are clear with the syllabus, your IAS preparation remains futile. You might be scratching across the points, which is not productive.

3. Draw a Time-Table

Make an effective timetable and stick to it precisely. Studying in an organized manner will help you move in the right direction. A random study pattern may lead you nowhere, you may lose track. Prepare a genuine study routine with adequate breaks in between. Divide your subjects according to routine and proceed in a systematic way. This is the best way to prepare for UPSC civil services exam in a short time.

4. Read Newspapers Regularly

Develop a habit of reading newspapers and magazines on a daily basis. Keep yourself updated with the latest news and ongoings across the world. Keep a track of the current affairs as they are the most significant part of the question paper. Download the various mobile applications which provide day-to-day news and keep a record of it.

5. Make the Best Choice

Pay high attention while choosing your optional subjects. The optional subject in the UPSC examination carries 500 marks in total. Making the proper choice of the subject will fetch you high marks in your paper. As a result of it, your overall score will be rewarded. Choose the subjects in which you feel you are comfortable.

6. Follow NCERT Books

The NCERT books play a vital role in the civil services examination. The textbooks from classes six to twelve will guide you with your IAS preparation. Being sourced by the government, NCERT books tend to be the most reliable source of study material for your IAS preparation. The concepts are presented in a comprehensive manner in these books. You can also find that the previous years’ question papers carry questions directly from the NCERT textbooks.

7. Make Notes

Preparing short notes while studying will enrich your IAS preparation. The notes serve as a quick guide before the exams. You can easily revise your syllabus with the help of these notes. These are more useful in case of recording current affairs. After completing a subject instead of revising the whole content again, you can refer to these short notes. It provides you with a quick recap.

8. Practice Writing Answers

The nature of the UPSC mains question paper is descriptive. It analyses you on the grounds of perception and clarity. Using minimum words, you have to design your answer in the most effective way within the stipulated time. Adequate writing practice is required for fulfilling the standards. Practice more and more to frame your answers flawlessly.

9. Refer to Previous Years’ Question Papers

Previous years’ questions papers are a valuable source of study material for your IAS preparations. These papers would give you an insight into the pattern and type of questions asked. It also helps you understand the difficulty level of the paper. Solving these papers will help you get familiar with the exam pattern. It will improve your writing and time management skills. It will let you judge your performance.

10. Attempt Mock Tests

Evaluating your performance will help you identify the gaps in your preparation. You can work on them to avoid such mistakes. Taking a series of mock tests will help you assess yourself. It helps you harden your grip on your subjects. You can discover your strengths and weaknesses and thereby act on them.

Also read How to Prepare for Exams in one day

IAS Planner- Crack IAS Exam in 1 Year

An aspirant must be aware of all the details and important dates related to the examination. One can crack the IAS exam in one year by strategically planning their preparation through an IAS planner. Try to form an accurate timetable that covers all the syllabus and leaves a scope of orderly revision.

A candidate can take up to six attempts. Designing and following a productive study routine will help a candidate clear the exam in one go. One needs to plan every detail according to the weightage of questions and a time limit. One should also keep in mind the syllabus rigorously to help create a successful study plan for their IAS preparation.

The following steps constitute an ideal IAS planner:

Step 1: Be Thorough with the Syllabus

The very first step in the plan is acquiring in-depth knowledge about the syllabus. Analyze the content that one is going to learn in the whole process. The exam contains a wide variety of subjects. To get thorough with the syllabus, one needs to divide several subjects into distinctive months. There is a totality of nine subjects that covers the whole IAS syllabus namely:

• English
• Economics
• Environment
• History
• Political Science
• Geography
• International Relations
• Internal Security
• Ethics

Besides, one should make the activity of news reading a daily routine. Now that the syllabus can be segmented into various months, General knowledge must be omnipresent throughout your IAS preparation. It should be studied on a regular basis. One can learn GK by watching the news, reading newspapers, and keeping track of current affairs.

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Step 2: Follow a Month-by-Month Plan

Segment your IAS preparation into months. Following the monthly routine will give you a convenient flow.

First Month

The first month is the most significant month for IAS preparation. One gains interest in the subject and focuses on cracking the exam. From the very first day of the schedule, one should read the newspaper routinely to keep up with the current affairs. The first month should be utilized to get thorough about the exam pattern and its stages. One needs to get the required study material and start absorbing it.

Adhere to the latest syllabus of IAS preparation and stay updated about the exam notices. An aspirant should acquire knowledge from multiple sources. Try to obtain guidance from an experienced to have an insight into the process. A random way of studying has higher chances of students going astray. Formulate an effective study plan within the first month and stick to it throughout the way.

Second to Fifth Month

During this phase, one should start their preparation from general studies papers. Invest the upcoming months in reading general studies papers and other NCERT books. Try to rotate the subjects to avoid the monotony of studying. Take up one subject you are completely new to and the other one you are comfortable with. The main idea is to generate interest and a comfortable studying environment.

Rerun this process of taking up two subjects and working on them. One should also prepare for prelims and mains together for at least one to two months. The target for these two months should be to be clear with the tough subject areas. Making notes of whatever is studied will help in the periodic revision of the syllabus. GK and current affairs are important in every stage of the IAS preparation. A separate file will work for it. Going through the whole procedure helps one realize that one year is enough for IAS preparation.

Sixth to Eighth Month

Now, this is the time to concentrate on your prelims. An aspirant should revise the entire syllabus for prelims at least three times. Solving question papers is mandatory for General Studies and Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) to clear the exam. At least 100–120 papers should be practiced to get result-oriented answers. Refer to the previous year’s question papers. One should condition their brain for any surprises in the exam.

Decide about the optional papers carefully to get rewarded with high marks and get an edge. The optional subject should be the strongest area of the aspirant. One should choose this subject depending upon their aptitude, interest, and experience. The optional subject secures an aspirant’s position.

Once decided, start preparing for it along with the General Studies paper. This is an ideal time to get into a preliminary test series. Attempt numerous mock tests to strengthen your IAS preparation. One should have taken their prelims exam successfully by the end of this phase.

Ninth to Twelfth Month

These are the most crucial months for an aspirant. One must start practicing for the main paper. Practice writing answers. Post prelims tenure focuses on the completion of the remaining syllabus. Here an individual must be working at full speed to get away with the mains. It is advisable to put at least 10 hours with necessary breaks into your preparation for mains. You get three months’ time before the mains paper.

Prepare a mind map about the syllabus within the first month. The other two months should completely focus on revision. Attempt mock test series for the main exam. Work on your writing skills during these three months. Close attention should be given to writing proper answers for both GS and the optional papers. By the end of this phase, aspirants would have taken their main exams. With this, one year appears to be sufficient for your IAS preparation.

Post Mains Exam

An aspirant has an average of two months until the results are out for the Mains. Candidates who succeed in clearing the mains can appear for the last and vital stage of the whole process. This is the personality test or the UPSC interview.

During these two months, an aspirant can hone their skills for the personality test. It involves sharpening communication skills and updating oneself with the ongoing global affairs. One should also improve their fitness and mental strength. Physical, as well as mental health, should remain positive throughout the process. Attempting mock interviews is the best practice.

The personality test is all about promptness, behavior, and conduct. Be serious with the interview. Don’t let it jeopardize all the hard work you have undergone for over a year. Once you are done with the interview, you mark an end to your IAS preparation.

Key Focus Areas for IAS Preparation

Is it possible to crack UPSC in one year? Yes, it is. You can master your IAS preparation by focusing on the key areas of the exam syllabus. Following some basic tips can guide an aspirant in achieving the task.

Some vital points to focus on for IAS preparation include:

Current Affairs

Candidates are advised to read the newspaper periodically to keep themselves updated about their surroundings. This practice can be done by visiting several websites, reading current affairs magazines and stuff, etc. Downloading mobile applications will help to get daily updates. These are some of the ways to keep oneself abreast of the country’s contemporary issues and situations.

Mock Tests

Previous year’s question papers and sample papers are the most reliable and authenticated source to get an idea of the paper. Solving different kinds of papers teaches a candidate to manage their time efficiently by giving a glimpse of the paper’s pattern and difficulty level. These mock tests act as a benchmark to test one’s understanding and boost preparation.

Keeping Notes Handy

Making notes and writing down important points are some of the good habits that will help the candidate to have a quick recap and help in memorization, and easy revision before the examination. These notes are the summarized form of the syllabus that acts as a last-minute savior for a candidate. Candidates can have a look at them at any time before the examination. It is a good revision tactic.


Revision is not an activity that a candidate is advised to do just before the examination. It is something that is expected the whole year from the aspirant. From the first day of the preparation, an individual should get into this practice and make it a habit. Whatever is studied should be revised at the end of the day, and even on the following days to maintain the flow.

Proper Sleep

Apart from studies and a consistent timetable, candidates should take care of their sleeping schedule. Also, one should note that sleeping deprivation takes a person nowhere. Proper sleep is very essential to keep your mind fresh and open to absorption. Sleeping is a must to boost energy and concentration.

Read more about UPSC IAS Exam Notifications, Syllabus, and more.

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In Summary

The above-given tips and an overview suggest that an aspirant can easily crack the IAS exam in a year. They only need to work hard to achieve the goal. They need to be consistent with their aspirations. The above-stated are some of the prescribed guidelines for the candidates, who look forward to completing their IAS preparation in a year. Working systematically is more important than working for hours. A good plan with follow-up actions can definitely make you reach heights. You can cover the whole syllabus during this time and ace the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 1 year enough for IAS preparation?

One year is enough for cracking UPSC if you prepare properly. Even it is not that you must join coaching for the IAS preparation. You can definitely clear the exam if you procure the right guidance and follow an effective UPSC preparation strategy. By maintaining consistency in your study schedule, you can easily prepare yourself for UPSC. Regular revisions will help you ace your IAS preparation.

What are the subjects in IAS?

The UPSC exam comprises three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview. Prelims generally focus on the subjects you studied during school like English, History & Civics, Geography, Economics, General Science, Sociology, Mathematics, etc. The Mains syllabus is similar to the Prelims, only that it is of the honor’s degree level.

Is IAS easy to study?

If you make your concepts clear and develop an application-based study pattern you may not find any difficulties to study. If you feel it is easy, you may not face much trouble. However, one must not be overconfident with their hurdles. With adequate efforts and dedication, you can easily crack the IAS exam. UPSC is considered to be one of the toughest exams but by being consistent with your study strategy you can gain success.

Is IAS more difficult than CA?

The difficulty of an exam often depends upon your way of approaching it. IAS and CA, both exams are difficult as well as easy in their own way. In every exam, you have to do your best to succeed. However comparatively, IAS is tougher than CA. In IAS, if you fail to clear any stage you have to begin from scratch while in CA you don’t have to appear for the stage, you already passed.

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