UPSC is the main regulatory body that conducts the competitive exams for the recruitment for civil service vacancies across the country. The Civil Services Exam (CSE) or Indian Administrative Service (IAS) are conducted in two parts – the UPSC prelims and mains. The UPSC prelims consist of objective type questions, and the UPSC mains include subjective or long-answer type questions.
Many experts are of the opinion that it is still impossible to crack the UPSC IAS or UPSC CSE without formal coaching classes. However, the success stories of several youngsters from the remote villages of India have already proven that coaching is not always a necessity. These people cracked the UPSC upon their first try without professional coaching classes.
The strategies and schedules of each aspirant can vary a little, depending on their daily routines, intellect, and retention power. However, there should be a basic structure to the preparatory phase that should help everyone prepare for the big test. So, let us take it from the top – here’s how you should begin preparing for the UPSC –
Know the dates of the exams: You can find the dates of every exam the UPSC conducts on their official website. Other dedicated UPSC, IAS, and CSE preparation sites also have verified timetables.
Double check the exam dates, since they are subject to change as per the UPSC guidelines.
Why do you want to crack UPSC?: Before you undertake the preparation for one of the most challenging entrance tests in India, you should ask yourself why you want to crack it. Taking a personal interview to evaluate your PI quotient will help you find the answer to this question. The PI quotient will determine how your candidature will fare against your test performance. Knowing about your PI quotient will not only give you a morale boost, but it will also help you acquire the confidence necessary for the preparation of the UPSC entrance exam.
Know your caliber: With or without coaching, preparing for the UPSC is a considerable commitment. It requires intensive studying and extensive practice. While people often ask us how long they should be studying for the entrance test, we must say that there the preparation cannot be quantified in terms of hours.
According to our experience, to succeed, you might need around 10 to 12 months of dedicated preparation. Today’s statistics show that 40% of every Indian between the ages of 21 and 32 years have dreams of becoming an IAS officer. However, only around 5% of aspiring youth succeed. The success rate has little to do with formal coaching and more to do with the dedication each puts in for self-study. Quantifying the preparation is a big mistake, and you should focus on the quality instead. Taking a look at the previous years’ upsc prelims answer key will give you an idea about the standards of the questions and the quality of preparation necessary to crack the exam.
When should you begin your preparation?: Interestingly, most successful IAS and CES aspirants begin their preparation from their high school days. The syllabi for UPSC encompasses significant portions of the high school (sixth standard to twelfth standard) textbooks. Those who have the dreams of passing the UPSC often begin their preparation right from their school days. Experts recommend extensive research on the current affairs and dedicated study hours (between 10 and 12 hours) at least one year before the exam.
At the same time, we must state that there is no “one ideal time” for everyone to begin their preparation. No matter when you start, you should be ready to put your mind and soul to it. You should check out online UPSC guides and preparation websites that offer free study material to make up for the lost time during your UPSC preparation.
Take a printed copy of the syllabus and begin the dissection: The UPSC syllabus is quite expansive, and there are no arguments against that. The first step towards mastering the topics is by getting an outline of the syllabus from a verified source and breaking it down to parts that you already know, and components that are relatively new to you. Break down the entire syllabus in the same manner, and soon, you will find that you have a considerable edge on the lion’s share of the topics. Begin by revising the known parts and include at least two new chapters/topics per day during the preparatory phase.
The theory papers like economics, history, politics, geography, and your optional subject will demand a considerable amount of time. However, CSAT preparation is not time-intensive. It requires your logic and reasoning skills, so you can dedicate an hour to practicing from old UPSC question papers.
The process of preparation for the UPSC is quite lengthy, and it is indeed tricky unless you have a clear goal in mind. Apart from the long-term life goals like becoming an IAS officer or working as an IRS official, you need to set up some short-term goals during preparation. These might include finishing a portion of the syllabus before the next weekend or solving mock papers with 90% scores before the end of the month.
Setting up little challenges for yourself during the preparatory phase can help make the preparation much more exciting and bearable for every aspiring future central service official of India.