The UPSC conducts civil service exams every year. Since the age limit is pretty generous there are several cases where even working individuals or people who already have a job has applied for the IAS exams.

Time management for studying and taking care of health simultaneously while working a 9 hour job is the greatest difficulty faced by the working examinees. This article, specially devised for working individuals, divides the syllabus into manageable bits and creates an effective study plan for working professional UPSC preparation.

Can a Working Professional Clear UPSC?

It is usually recommended for examinees to spare 14 months time for preparation of the civil service exams. Considering that you have less time and still want to crack the exam, you may follow the following time table for UPSC 2021 for working professionals:

  • Time not fit for studying → 9 hours office, 1-hour travelling, 1 hour for washing and eating, 8 hours for sleep. This makes a total of 19 hours.
  • Time to study → 24 hours – 19 hours = 5 hours

Time Table for UPSC 2021 for Working Professional

Following this timetable for UPSC 2021 for working professional, you get 5*6 = 30 hours a week for studying and you can add 10-12 hours during Sunday depending on your capacity and dedication.

Keeping this in mind, an examinee will get 40-42 hours of study time during a week. This amount of time is quite suitable for cracking the exam if followed religiously and made fit into the 1 year UPSC  study plan for working professional.

Now, this timetable is for people who are trying to crack the exam in half the time i.e. 6-7 months. It is obvious that if you have more weeks at hand then you can reduce the number of hours put in each week. Regularity is the key here.

UPSC 1 Year Study Plan for Working Professional

Even those examinees who have more time at hand try to put in at least 4 hours each day, if not 5. The rest of the schedule is more or less the same as the previously mentioned schedule for people with less time. You may reduce the 10 hours during Sunday to a generous 7 hours if you have ample weeks at hand. More time should not lead to a slowing of pace, it simply means that you have more time to revise which is of extreme importance.

1.General Study Plan

Divide the 4 or 5 hours you decide to devote each day into shifts and assign some important bits of the syllabus to each bit. If you cannot study 4 or 5 hours at a stretch, you may wake up early and study half the time and put in the rest of the time later in the day. Since the gap between prelims and mains is only 120 days you need to take an integrated approach towards the entire syllabus.

2. First Shift

Put in 2 hours for this shift. During this shift focus mainly on the NCERT and Standard books that are prescribed. Do not try to study two books simultaneously. Always finish one before starting another. Then comes the important question of what to study first. There will always be a long list of books but there are a few important ones that cover a greater part of the syllabus.

While NCERT books up to class X will be helpful for the prelims, for the mains, concentration should be shifted to class XI & XII books.

Also Read: Check-out the Best Timetable to Ace the Upcoming UPSC IAS Exam

3. Second Shift

This shift too needs 2 hours. Since the first shift was mainly prelims dedicated, this shift will be mains dedicated but will also cover parts of the prelims syllabus. Dedicate this second shift to the reading of newspapers (E.g. the Hindu or The Indian Express) and taking notes.

These notes will help in both the mains and the prelims. Rather than reading books on current affairs, reading newspapers makes our knowledge vaster. We have an overall understanding of the political and economical situation of the country and this not only helps with the direct questions but also the reasoning questions of mains and the CSATs.

If you are done with the newspaper work early, then you may begin with the other parts of the mains syllabus during this time.

4. Third Shift

This shift will only require one hour of your time and should be dedicated to your choice of optional subjects. If you are unable to put in 5 hours a day alongside working then you need to manage some time throughout the day to study it anyway. You may put in some time during your office breaks or bite into the time of shift 1 & 2 may be taking 15 minutes from each to assign at least 45 minutes for studying the optional subject.

5. Sunday Shift

In the UPSC preparation strategy for working professionals, this is the most important day to learn and revise. If you have fewer weeks at hand, put in at least 10-12 hours. However, if you have the 14 months study time then 6-7 hours is enough as well. Considering you have less time at hand, put in at least 2 hours for revision and then 5 hours for GS preparations. Then you must practice writing answers too. You may reduce the time assigned to each if you have more weeks at hand but you must do everything mentioned.

Since Sunday preparations will mainly focus on mains, it is important to know how mains questions are different from prelims questions and prepare writing answers accordingly. Prelims will go mainly for direct questions (E.g. What are the features of the ‘Make in India’ scheme) but mains have more analytical questions (E.g. Why do you think the ‘make in India’ scheme failed?)

Also Read: A Detailed IAS Planner 2020 for Beginners: Guide to Crack the UPSC Civil Services Exam

6. UPSC Mains Preparation Strategy

If you do not have a lot of time at hand then you may assign the following amount of time to your preparations:

a) Put in 2 months for World History, Ethics and Geography

b) Put in 1 month for IR, Society and Disaster Management

c) Put in half a month Security and Science Technology

d) Put in half a month for education, society and health.

If you are wondering, can a working professional clear UPSC? Then this is the right strategy for you. Follow this time-table in correspondence with the shift division mentioned earlier. If you have more preparation time at hand, add one or half a month to the time mentioned in this time table.

Apart from all these, try to solve around 30 mock tests of the test series. For prelims, optional subject and essay type questions refer to the last 20 years question papers. For mains, refer to the last 10 years paper. Remember to keep all the standard and prescribed books handy.

Mistakes to be Avoided by Working Individuals

Cover Range and not Depth

Learning and clearing an exam are two different things. Try to cover range and not the depth of whatever you study. Reading one topic in earnest will only waste your time since the syllabus requires a wide array of knowledge in numerous fields so covering a greater range is of greater importance.

Reading without a Routine should be avoided

It is a vast syllabus and your brain may be thrown off balance. Do not study while moving or working, you need to study with 100% attention to make efficient use of your precious time. Always stick to your routine.

Do Not Compromise Sleep

Compromising sleep will only reduce your efficiency and performance. Especially, if you have the habit of sleeping 8-9 hours, then not sleeping enough will retard your body functions and your brain will not work to its maximum usable capacity. If you are used to sleeping less, try to maintain the regular hours of sleep you need and don’t reduce it further.

Use the Internet for Help and not Distraction

The Smartphone is a great help in our day and age. We can access the internet easily and on the go. It is essential that you use your Smartphone for all the help you need however, it is also a great means of distraction. Be careful and stick to business and don’t end up wasting time on other indulgences on the internet.

It is very common in aspirants to think about different things while preparing for the exam, thoughts like can a working professional clear UPSC? Did any working professionals clear UPSC in the first attempt? can come up in your head but it is suggested to not think too much about these things and focus on your study as that is the only thing that can make you crack the UPSC exam.

Not Prioritizing

Do not go haywire with your preparations. Know what the need of the moment is and prepare accordingly. For e.g. do not focus on your optional in April when the prelims are knocking at your door. Follow the 4-5 hour shift system suggested in the article and keep your priorities straight.

Also Read: Can a Working Professional ever become an IAS Officer?


Hopefully, this article will help all the working professional in their UPSC preparation. For better preparation, one can easily sign up for the best online UPSC class and make their preparation journey a lot smoother.

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Working Professional UPSC Preparation Strategy: Can a Working Professional Clear UPSC?
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Working Professional UPSC Preparation Strategy: Can a Working Professional Clear UPSC?
Can a working professional clear UPSC? What is the best time table for working professional? Did any working professionals clear UPSC in the first attempt? Read on to find all the answers.
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About the Author


Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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