UPSC is a prestigious exam in the nation. Every year lakhs of candidates aspire to crack this exam, but only a few of them get through. Do you know why? It’s because several candidates have a misconception that one needs to have proper coaching to clear this examination, But is it the case? Let us find out.

Cracking the UPSC exam is not a cakewalk. One has to master the technique of smart work and hard work to pass this exam with flying colours. The main question that nags every aspirant; is coaching the only way to help you clear this exam? It is not. One needs to chalk out a well-laid study plan and religiously follow it. Self-study always overpowers any coaching.

Eligibility Criteria for UPSC

The first and foremost thing that you need to look at before starting UPSC preparation is this exam’s eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  1. Age Limit for the UPSC exam is between 21 to 32 years.
  2. One needs to be a graduate in any stream before applying for this exam.
  3. Only Indian citizens are allowed to take this exam.

Exam Structure

After falling right into the UPSC exam eligibility criteria, one needs to look at the exam pattern. UPSC exam has three stages that are prelims, mains, and personality test(interview). All three of these stages have different question patterns and requirements.


1) Prelims exam is an objective type of assessment and includes two General studies papers. This exam is further divided into two more categories:

GS Paper 1- This paper includes Geography, History, General Science, Environmental Studies, Ecology, and Current Affairs.

GS Paper 2- This paper examines the logical aspects of the candidates. It includes aptitude and logical reasoning, and comprehension skills.


2) The Mains is the second level of the IAS exam. Only those candidates who have successfully cleared the prelims exam are eligible for this stage. The Mains exam consists of nine subjective papers, including one optional subject. This stage can turn the fate of many candidates.


3) Personality test- This is the final round of the UPSC exam. The candidates who clear the mains exam are eligible for this round. In this stage, a board of members or interviewers assess a candidate’s personality and mark them accordingly. One needs to be confident and well-read to qualify for this round. This is the final most round, and it decides your overall rank.

How to Start UPSC Preparation at Home?

Some people believe that they need to be a geek to clear this examination, but the reality is, the UPSC exam demands an overall knowledge and a strong personality. The following points can help you to easily start your UPSC preparation.

  1. Mentally Prepare Yourself- Since this exam is known for its difficulty level, one needs to prepare himself/herself before starting the preparation. The syllabus of UPSC is somewhat extensive and daunting. The mental pressure and stress can loosen up your preparation. Set short achievable goals for yourself daily and work at your own pace. Choose an optional scoring subject and chalk out a smart plan for the preparation.
  2. Stick to a Timetable- UPSC exam demands a big part of your time. One needs to have excellent time management skills to ace this examination. Making a time-table that signs with your goals are a perfect way to manage your time effectively. Strictly adhere to your time-table and streamline your preparation.
  3. Read Newspapers Regularly- The weightage of current affairs in the exam is quite high. One can master this section of the paper by regularly reading newspapers and having a look at important current affairs. Newspapers are the chief source of current affairs, and they are easily available also.
  4. Choose the Right Optional for Yourself- The weightage of the optional subject is 500 marks; hence, choose this subject wisely. Always choose a subject that you are confident about. Subjects that you have prior knowledge on or that overlaps with the GS papers are recommended.
  5. NCERTs are your Holy Grail- NCERTs can give you an overview of the basics of all the subjects. NCERT books from class VI to class X covers the important topics of various subjects. These books have in-depth explanations of all the topics and are a reliable source of study.
  6. Make your Notes- Since the UPSC syllabus is quite vast and time-consuming. It is very important to make notes on every topic. Having precise handwritten notes helps you to memorize the topics. These notes can save a lot of time during revisions.
  7. Practice Previous Years Papers/ Sample Papers- This technique is mostly the advice of all the UPSC toppers. Solving previous year papers or sample papers can help you have an idea of the exam pattern, important questions that are repeatedly asked. One can analyze his/her mistake before sitting for the actual exam.
  8. Prepare Yourself for Personality Tests- The candidates often leave this part in the preparation and only focus on the paper’s theoretical part. Personality tests examine one’s confidence, knowledge, and overall personality. You can practice them at home by watching various interview videos of your seniors online. Try to answer the questions that were asked to them. Make sure you are fluent in the language you are choosing for your exam.


UPSC is a tough nut to crack, but if one’s preparation is rock solid and consistent, then one can pass this examination. We hope that this article could give you important tips for self-study. You can upgrade your IAS preparation by following these tips. UPSC pathshala provides you with the best quality video lectures and study content that can skyrocket your preparation. It has checkpoint questions based on each video to test your understanding and keep a track of your progress. Visit our website to know more.

Happy studying!

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Is UPSC 2021 without Any Coaching Possible? Decoding UPSC Preparation at Home Strategy
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Is UPSC 2021 without Any Coaching Possible? Decoding UPSC Preparation at Home Strategy
Is it possible to do your UPSC preparation at home? Read this article to find out eligibility criteria, exam structure and how to start your IAS preparation.
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UPSC Pathshala
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