If you’ve decided to start your UPSC preparation from home, what is the best way to do it? Utilise your time and resources optimally with these tips from upscpathshala

Too much to do, too little time

So you have decided to prepare for the UPSC exams from home and after coming to terms with the huge syllabus, or lack thereof, for UPSC you might be finding yourself plagued with just one resounding thought: how do I complete the syllabus? Yes, it is a herculean task no doubt; however, there are two more things that you need to consider in order to be able to clear the selection procedure for UPSC.

The important aspects of UPSC no one tells you about

Interestingly, no one seems to talk about two very important aspects of succeeding in UPSC other than covering the syllabus. The reason people don’t talk about it is simple, those two other things are difficult to impart.

The first aspect is that succeeding in UPSC demands that our outlook of India changes to a broader and more inclusive one in the course of the preparation. What successful UPSC aspirants talk about is a transformation of their view of India from a narrow closeted version to a broad, inclusive and all-encompassing one.

The other driver of success that most people do not talk about is keeping you and your preparations on track. No one acknowledges that making you work hard, smart and on time is what is finally going to usher in success for you. Because irrespective of how much teaching a coach does, unless you are working hard, smart and on schedule, you will not succeed.

If you have decided to prepare from home, let’s see what you need to remember

Prepare yourself

Take time to prepare yourself physically and mentally. This is going to be a 1.5 to 2 year journey and it won’t be easy. It is extremely important that you know the important dates. Mark the dates in your physical and digital (mobile phone) calendars so that you don’t miss any of them. Set reminder 2 days before every important date if required. Here’s a link for important dates.

Know the syllabus

They say “well begun is half done”, and the key to a good beginning is preparation. Knowing the syllabus is of paramount importance in order to tackle any exam, more so the UPSC. Click the link for more details on the UPSC exam and syllabus.

Schedule your time and set goals

Set goals for achievements in every week.  Devote time daily, prepare to set aside a schedule of at least 6 to 8 hours of study every day, and stick to it. Look for online coaching centers that help you to keep on track.

Read, read and read

Learn active reading – you will do a lot of reading, newspaper, magazines, books – active reading is different, it involves understanding main ideas clearly, analyzing the author’s opinion and drawing your own inferences. Read The Hindu and The Indian Express. Read relevant magazines like Yojana to understand news analysis and reasoning.

Learn to analyze and relate

Learn to analyze and relate current news with the syllabus. Choose a coaching center that focuses on analysis and relating the news to theory rather than just downloading information. See a sample video below from upscpathshala for an idea of analysis based coaching.

Choose your optional subject wisely

Take time to think about and strategize on the choice of your optional subject. While there are subjects that are high scoring ones like Geography and Public Administration, and popular ones like History, Anthropology, and Sociology, finally, your choice should depend on a subject that you enjoy and love studying. Geography and Public Administration both have defined syllabus out of which the syllabus for the latter is quite limited too. This is the reason many candidates take the subject as their optional. However, if you’re not at all interested in the subject or are bored by it, it won’t help you in spite of being a scoring one.

Keep the NCERT books at hand

Have the NCERT books at hand. Below is a suggested list and of all recommended NCERT books for UPSC preparation. Make tidy and organized notes of every chapter and create a gist that you can revisit.

  • NCERT Geography – XI & XII
  • NCERT Science – Std VII to Std X
  • NCERT Economy – Std XI- Introduction to macroeconomics
  • NCERT Biology – Std XII
  • Shankar IAS – Environment
  • Orient Blackswan School Atlas
  • History of India since independence – Bipin Chandra
  • India since independence – Bipin Chandra
  • Ancient History, Medieval History – NCERT
  • Contemporary World Politics – NCERT XII
  • Indian Polity – Laxmikant

Revisit your notes, and practise writing answers daily

Don’t forget to revise and revisit your notes daily and practice writing answers daily. Only practice will keep you on your toes and prepare you fully for the exam.

Allot time at the end for revision and solving mock tests

Allot 25% time for revision and solving mock papers at the end of the preparation period. Choose online coaching centers that provide new tests and mock tests daily. Take plenty of mock tests as preparation. Here’s an example from upscpathshala of the kind of tests they add daily to their courses.

Visit and revisit important resources regularly

Here are the govt. websites and other resources that you need to keep yourself updated with and visit regularly:

Rajya Sabha TV (Youtube)

Ministry of external affairs

Press bureau of India

Economic Survey of India

Official Website of Environment Ministry

Down to Earth Magazine

Science Reporter

India Year Book

Use the internet to your advantage

Use social media effectively subscribe to helpful groups or pages. Create new ids just for preparation and make sure you don’t add other distractions to that id to avoid losing track of time and getting lost in useless things. Use videos from coaching centers that are designed for online viewing and not just slideshows or classroom video recordings. Here’s an example of a highly optimized video.hindu


Take advantage of intellectual discussions

Find a regular source of intellectual discussion – a scholar, a mentor, an ex-aspirant, a family member who had prepared for UPSC, a senior who had prepared for UPSC. Mentors are available online – go for such options. Bring discussions around to the topics covered in your syllabus.

Make sure your outlook is undergoing a transformation

Make sure your coaching class is really transforming your outlook to a more inclusive one in order to sail through the UPSC selections.

It isn’t difficult once you are well prepared

Finally, choose wisely how you spend your time and money. Work smart, hard and efficiently.

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About the Author

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.

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