Many of you might have thought that you should have come from a prestigious institution such as AIIMS or IITs to excel in the UPSC test, and we should excel at every level of education. But the fact is, you don’t need to come from a renowned administration or become a topper. What you really need is a passion to become part of the civil service. You need to be able to do a lot of hard work and smart work.

The competition is enormous and if you want to beat the competition you need to get ready and prepare yourself in a way that you can crack all the three parts of UPSC 2021.

Get Familiar with The UPSC Format

The exam begins with three phases. The first phase is called the preliminary examination which consists of two papers- The general studies and civil service aptitude test.  The questions in the GS phase will be based on History, Economics, Social, Politics, Environment and the questions in CSAT are based on assessing your decision and problem-solving skills. It is more like an objective type question and has 400 marks of worth.

Moving on to the second phase which is called the Mains exam and is more complex and lengthy compared to Prelims. It consists of essay papers, multiple general studies papers, and optional subjects as well. The total marks for this phase are 1750.

The last phase is the personality round where you will be interviewed by multiple people for 20-30 minutes and you may be asked questions on democracy, education system and based on what you wrote in your detailed application form so make sure you include things which are genuine and you have knowledge about.

How To Start Your UPSC Preparation

You are confident, to have a passion and a career in the civil service is your dream. Now, to make your dream come true. The first step is to begin your UPSC preparation for the Civil Services Exam, start reading NCERT Class 6-10 books on  History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Polity based on the Official Civil Services Syllabus.

Here is a list of books to help you out for UPSC prelims preparation:

  • India’s Ancient Past by R. S. Sharma
  • India’s Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Polity by M. Lakshmikanth

Which One to Prepare First- Prelims or Mains?

Based on the time you have and the number of attempts available, you will determine whether to prepare for the prelims first and the mains later or both. If this is your first attempt, concentrate on the Prelims so that you can pass the qualifying exam to get to the Mains. If you have more than 1 year before the Civil Services Test, plan for both Prelims and Mains.

Although both papers address similar subjects of general knowledge, comprehension, and basic principles, the style of planning and writing is entirely different. The prelims are in the form of MCQs, checking your speed and knowledge, while the Mains exam consists of essay-style questions that assess your writing skills and technical skills apart from the knowledge.

Know your limitations and overcome them first, if you feel it’s difficult to answer numerous questions within a short timespan, focus on it, or if you think that your writing skills require some kind of practice, shift your attention there.

How Can I start Preparation at Home?

How can I plan for UPSC 2021? This is the most critical issue that almost all IAS applicants have when they think about cracking the IAS test. After all, joining a coaching class is not the first step that IAS beginners take.

When you start preparing for the exam, you need to know the basics such as eligibility criteria for applying for the IAS exam, syllabus, etc. Once you have a clear knowledge of the basics of the IAS test, you will know that IAS preparation includes a combined approach to the Prelims and Mains exams. Only the UPSC preparation strategy varies. For UPSC prelims preparation,  you’re going to have to cover a huge amount of details, but you don’t need to go into detail.

But it’s the other way around for Mains. The syllabus is well-defined so you know what to cover, but you need to cover every facet of this elaborate syllabus and practice essays because the Mains exam is going to be descriptive or written.

Also Read: Tips To Ace the Mains Exam

Find the Right Books for You

If you want to train for IAS from your home, it means that you are not actually looking to enrol in a coaching programme, which is alright as the IAS exam can be passed without coaching. You need to then take help from UPSC preparation books such as:

  • Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Karthikeyan
  • Science and Technology by Ravi Agrahari
  • Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
  • Environment and Ecology by Rajagopalan
  • Notes for IAS & Judiciary by Law Rahul

Follow Up with Current Events

If you have not already learned this, current affairs and general awareness are very important topics for Prelims, and you should anticipate at least 30-40 current affairs and general awareness issues in Paper 1 (General Studies). So how do you deal with these issues when you start planning your IAS?  Build a habit of reading at least one decent national newspaper and one good news magazine like Kurukshetra, Yojana.

When you start planning your IAS from home, there’s always a danger of slipping into the comfort zone and being careless. That’s why you’d want to create a 10-12 month preparation schedule for how you’re going to cover the whole General Studies syllabus so that it covers both the Prelims and the Mains. The next step is to split the time between papers 1 and 2. If you are planning for full time, It is recommended that you spend 7 hours on Paper 1 daily and 2-3 hours for Paper 2.

Also Read: Important Current Affairs Topic for UPSC 

Test Yourself

Even if you are studying for the IAS exam from your house, you should bear in mind that your preparation will never be done until you test your skills.  This becomes even more important if you begin your IAS preparation from your home without any coaching. But why take tests?  Simply because until you try a mock IAS exam, you won’t know whether or not your training is going on the right path.

By regularly attempting mock tests you will be able to identify your strong and weak points.  Also, you will become good at time management and cut down your chances of negative marking.  To help you with online mock tests there are many UPSC preparations apps available.


Preparation for UPSC is different for every aspirant. Some take coachings while others prepare at home. Irrespective of how you plan your UPSC exam preparation, you will need to go through the basic prototype such as studying from NCERT, reading newspapers/magazines, practising mock tests and all that. What sets your preparation different from others is your outlook, how you view things. Your outlook on UPSC is what will determine how you score on the exam.

Also Read: What Topics to Be Covered For UPSC

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UPSC 2021 Preparation Strategies:  Preparing for UPSC from Home and Lot More
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UPSC 2021 Preparation Strategies: Preparing for UPSC from Home and Lot More
How does one prepare for IAS without coaching? Is UPSC preparations hard? Find the go-to books for UPSC. What things to follow to make your UPSC journey smooth.
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UPSC Pathshala
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