The first question that every aspirant has is ‘how should I start preparing for UPSC?’ In today’s time, it is the smart work that matters the most after hard work. Especially for an esteemed exam such as Civil Services/ UPSC, one needs to combine this hard work in a structured manner so as to get the best result with the given resources. At the end of the day, you would know yourself better. Whether you need external guidance or coaching depends on you. Can you prepare at home for UPSC? Of course, you can, if you have the courage and dedication to it.

The First Steps to Take Before Starting to Prepare

  1. Put aside other commitments, make time for your studies and make sure that you really want to take on this journey to being a civil servant as it asks for a lot of effort and sacrifices on your part.
  2. Go through the exam pattern, syllabus, eligibility criteria, etc. Make yourself absolutely familiar with the exam process.
  3. Make a list of the standard textbooks that you must have. This can be in hard copy if not even soft copies are available online.
  4. Subscribe to Yojana. If not, try to find a shop where you can find the monthly edition of the same.
  5. Subscribe to a well-recognized newspaper. The safest option right now is The Hindu.
  6. Make separate copies for each subject for note-making.
  7. Make a copy exclusively for current affairs.
  8. Decide on an optional subject. Choose an optional subject you can teach yourself if you don’t want to take coaching. There are specialized courses available only for your Optional Subject as well if you think you need one.
  9. Make a practical and realistic timetable and assign short term and long term goals and try your best to stick to them.

Also Read: A Guide to Best Study Material for UPSC

Exam Pattern of UPSC Civil Services Exam

Name of the exam Civil Services Exam- IAS
Conducting authority Union Public Service Commission
Mode of Exam Offline
Number of Stages Prelims exam

Mains exam


Number of papers Prelims: 2

Mains: 9

Prelims marking scheme Paper 1: +2 marks

Paper 2: +2.5 marks

Negative marking: One-third of marks allotted to each question

Duration Prelims: 2 hours (Each paper)
Mains: 3 hours (Each paper)
Type of questions Prelims: Objective type
Mains: Subjective type
Post 1000 (Tentative)

When to Start Preparing for UPSC?

After finishing their graduation, most people are in their 21-23 years of age. This is considered the most optimal time for candidates to start studying for the UPSC CS Exams in the earnest. Many are unable to clear their exams in the first attempt and success only comes in the IAS exam in the 2nd and 3rd and 4th attempts. That is when most candidates are between the ages of varying ages of 22 to 26 years. So without any doubt or worry, this is the time that you should most definitely devote yourself to the IAS exam at this time.

How to Start UPSC Preparation?

  1. Choose the subject of your choice and start with it. Starting with the subject that interests you is very important as it will give the initial push to the preparation and keep your motivation levels high. Make sure that you make notes in your copy as they help afterward during revision. Make use of mind maps, flowcharts, and cue cards.
  2. Read the newspaper every day and make notes. Try to go beyond the article and do your full research on the topic. Also, read editorials on it and come up with opinions and suggested reforms and solutions. Be careful to use the information only from the authenticated sources such as government websites etc.
  3. Mark a deadline for the completion of the subject according to the syllabus of the subject and own learning or grasping ability.
  4. Keep revising old material as you move on to new material.
  5. Make sure to not only focus on the Prelims or Mains but study material from both simultaneously. Give time to your optional subject as well.
  6. Keep taking practice papers and mock exams. If you are wondering how to start writing practice for UPSC? Then start writing practice by answering as many questions as you can. Create a basic structure and frame for your answers.

Also Read: Are You Willing to Go for the Exam? Check These UPSC Preparation Tips for Beginners


The crux of the matter is that starts in a simple manner, as not to overload yourself. Once you pick up on the rhythm of learning you can then slowly go ahead with tougher timetables. Also, as important it is to cover the maximum amount of syllabus, it is equally important to keep revising the previous ones and putting oneself to regular tests, to keep your confidence and not give in to stress or any kind of pressure.

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How to Start IAS Preparation at Home without Any Coaching? Learning Strategy for UPSC
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How to Start IAS Preparation at Home without Any Coaching? Learning Strategy for UPSC
Want to start your preparation for the UPSC IAS exams without any external help but don’t know how to go about it? Read on to know about the best learning strategy for self-learners from ground zero.
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UPSC Pathshala
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