Exam Preparation

Best Study Timetable for IAS Preparation

“Rome was not built in a day” they say, and neither your UPSC preparation will be done in one day. If you...

Avatar Written by Payal Ghosh · 4 min read >
Timetable for IAS Preparation

“Rome was not built in a day” they say, and neither your UPSC preparation will be done in one day. If you need to understand the extent of the preparation required for this marathon of an exam, you need to look at it like you are building a city with a defined date of completion. Now since, the task is so huge and the date for the exam is fixed, you need to map your progress and stick to it. This is why you will need to create, adhere to and finally make adjustments to both your daily Timetable and Study Plan.

The human body has a clock of its own and functions best if it knows what to expect in advance. In other words, we are creatures of habit and habit makes certain tasks easier. Now you need to make preparation, recall and presentation a habit for your brain. A habit so ingrained that it becomes second nature to it.

Here comes the importance of a daily Timetable. Sticking to a daily timetable will prepare your body and brain for a sustained preparation for the UPSC exams. Additionally, with time built in for revision and mock test, you will also be building your brain capacity for recall and presentation.

So let’s take a look at why we need to have a Daily Timetable along with a study plan, in more detail

The Syllabus

It is a given that the syllabus is huge for UPSC

The Time taken to prepare

Typically aspirants take about 1 to 1.5 years to prepare for UPSC and it is very difficult to keep up the motivation and resolve without the habit of studying daily and the plan to mark the progress.

Best timetable for UPSC preparation

Sample Study Timetable for IAS Aspirants:

Time What to do? How & Why
5:00 a.m. Wake up Try it, it helps!
5:00 – 5:30 a.m. Have tea / coffee, do your morning yoga or exercise Improves blood flow and concentration.
5:30 – 6:00 a.m. Freshen up, have a bath Gets you started for the day.
6:15 – 7:45 a.m. Read newspaper. Make notes while reading.
7:45 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast + travel if required A full breakfast will give you fuel to carry on for the rest of the day. Make sure you eat healthy and right.
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Revision Start with revising what you learnt the previous day.
9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Study Take up the topics that you feel are toughest for you since your mind is fresh and can absorb a lot.
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Break Take a break.
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Study Resume your studies. Try changing subjects if the subject is dragging you down.
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Lunch Pack in a light lunch. It is better to avoid a daytime siesta.
2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Test Time This is a time when our mind is at its lowest efficiency. Try doing mock tests or writing at this time.
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Resume your studies Try something lighter at this time. A subject that you like or something that interests you.
5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Break Have your tea/coffee. Meet positive people. Play or move around. Hit the gym if you are in the habit. If you are not traveling, all the more time for you to study!
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Study Take up something moderate at this time. As you would already be tired from the day’s work.
8:00 – 9:00 p.m. Revise and Consolidate Revise and consolidate your notes.
9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Supper Avoid heavy meals to get a good sleep.
9:30 – 10:00 p.m. Watch news/discussions Watch quality news discussions on UPSC-relevant issues.
10:00 – 10:30 p.m. Unwind (no TV) Relax and de-stress your mind. Listen to music, talk to your family and friends, but don’t watch TV
10:30 p.m. Hit the bed Get a good sleep. Avoid any screen time before bed (mobile etc.)

Remember to add a few hours of study on the weekends since you’d be having more time on those days. Once in a while you could also spend the time doing something that doesn’t take up much time like watching a movie or going for dinner with friends or family.

Of course the time table will be quite different for those who are engaged in a job, with much more commitments and much less time for studies. You might in that case need to give it your all on the weekends and keep a 3 to 5 hour study schedule on the weekdays.

Benefits of a timetable in preparing for UPSC:

Create a Habit

A timetable creates a habit in you. If you design the timetable well, it will create habits of understanding, retaining, recalling and presenting information.

Beat Stress

Because you will build in breaks and times to relax in your timetable it will make your breaks optimum for relaxing and de-stressing.

Creates Higher Efficiencies in Your Brain

By constantly engaging your brain consciously in a few specialised activities over a long duration (1 year minimum), your brain will create new efficiencies for the activities you need to repeat in order to be successful, like understanding, retaining, recalling and presenting.

Helps You to Restrict and Enjoy Other Activities

The timetable also helps you to both enjoy other activities, by giving you time to indulge in them, and to restrict the time spent on those activities.

When used with the study plan…

When used with the study plan, the timetable gives you a sense of direction and helps you to chart your progress. It also helps to keep you motivated by giving you a clear picture of what has been covered. It also helps you to assess yourself periodically and if required, readjust your schedule. You can also customize according to your own study pattern, focus, and requirement.

Here is an sample 1 year detailed study plan from UPSC Pathshala

What will it take to follow daily timetable for UPSC preparation?

It is easy to create a timetable a study plan, but what will it take to follow through on each and make the most out of them?

Below are the personality traits that will help you stick to the time table and study plan:

Honesty – be honest to yourself about your studies. If you are not focusing on your work at hand, you might as well be doing something else that you enjoy.

Seriousness – This is something that shouldn’t even be talked about. Have you heard of a marathon runner who wasn’t serious? They won’t even be able to finish the race, let alone win.

Discipline – any long preparation needs discipline to bring success. This is no different. Your discipline will make the time table effective, not the other way round.

Perseverance – perseverance is the capacity to push on in the face of difficulties. Don’t give up. Persevere.

Goal-setting – This is especially important in following the study plan and reviewing your progress. Every once in a while, don’t forget to sit back and measure your progress, both in terms of what has been covered and what is left.

Concentration – Practice concentration. Leave out all distractions and start focusing on your work. Nothing should disturb you. Slowly learn to disengage from outside noise and learn to concentrate even in the worst conditions.

Maintain your health – don’t forget to maintain your health as you are starting off on this preparation. Remember, if your health fails you during the exam, you would have wasted all this time and effort for nothing.

Wake up early – Even though the body clocks of different people work at different levels, it has been seen that the brain performs at a peak level early in the morning.

Enjoy the process – Last, but not the least, enjoy the process. No great deed was accomplished without enjoyment. Only if you enjoy learning will your brain help you by retaining information efficiently.

At the end of it, your time table is your personal map to reach your destination. Create your own rhythm and try not to deviate too much. Remember to stick to the study plan and the timetable both.

Written by Payal Ghosh
Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further. Profile

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