How to Start IAS Preparation at Home

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How to Begin Preparing for IAS exam at home? This is the most important question almost all IAS aspirants have when they think of cracking the IAS exam. After all joining a coaching class is not the first strategy that beginners to IAS exam have. This post lists the best ways to start UPSC exam preparation from your home.

#1 What is Your Age and Qualification?

This is very important to know since IAS preparation should be started at the right time, neither too early nor too late. As per UPSC data revealed in its annual reports, most candidates who clear the civil services examination fall in the age bracket of 23-28 years. Of course you can start preparing for IAS exam earlier and later than this age bracket as well. But starting IAS preparatin when you are, say, 15 years old (in school) may be too early. You can start preparing for IAS when you are in your final year of graduation, usually, 20-22 years.

#2 Know the Basics of the IAS Exam

Before you start preparing for UPSC exam from or outside your home, you should know some important information related to the civil services examination including: What is the IAS exam, the eligibility for ias exam, and syllabus. Once you have good knowledge of the basics of the IAS exam, you will realise that IAS preparation requires an integrated approach to Prelims and Mains exams. Only the preparation method varies. For prelims you will need to cover vast amount of information but you don’t need to go too muc in depth. But for Mains, it’s the other way around. The syllabus is well-defined so you know what to cover but you have to cover every aspect of this well-defined syllabus since the Mains exam is descriptive or written.

Recommended Books for IAS

Get all the recommended Books for IAS Prelims and Mains exam in one place. Only the essential books for your UPSC preparation are listed on this page. Click Here

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#3 Get the Right Books for IAS Exam

When you plan to prepare for IAS from your home means you are currently not looking to enroll for some coaching class, which is just fine as IAS exam can be cleared without coaching. But you will need to get these recommended books for IAS. Read these books at least twice: The first time from cover to cover and the second time read the most important chapters again and again to get the most out of these IAS books. Of course, if you can go through the books once again before the Prelims or Mains it is an added boost since your memory will be fresh right before the exam.

You should also know which NCERTs to read for IAS exam.

#4 Read the Right Newspaper and Magazines

If you didn’t already know this, current affairs and general awareness are very important topics for Prelims and you can expect at least 30-40 current affairs and general awareness questions in Paper 1 (general studies). So how do you cover these topics when you start your IAS preparation? You should read atleast one good newspaper daily and one good current affairs magazine. You can read the Indian Express or The Hindu. Both are good sources of current affairs and important editorials that will help you in your Prelims as well as GS Mains papers. Know how to read the newspaper for IAS. I also suggest you should read a reliable magazine like Pratyogita Darpan (available in English and Hindi) when you begin your UPSC preparation from home.

Additionally, to get a boost to your preparation efforts you should subscribe to weekly current affairs updates that are focussed on the IAS exam and will save your time and effort in searching for information from different sources.

#5 Prepare a Schedule and Follow It

When you’re starting your IAS preparation from your home there’s always the danger of falling in the comfort zone and becoming complacent. That’s why you need to prepare a 10-12 month preparation plan on how you will cover the entire General Studies syllabus so that it helps in the Prelims as well as the Mains. The next step is to divide your time between paper 1 and 2. Since Paper 2 of Prelims is only qualifying in scope you can devote far more time to Paper 1 (general studies) preparation. If you’re preparing full time I will suggest you devote 7 hours to Paper 1 daily and 2-3 hours to Paper 2. In Paper 1, you should devote 30-60 minutes to reading newspapers and current affairs.

You should devote your remaining time to covering the various topics like History. Geography, Polity etc.

#6 Test Your Preparation

Even if you’re preparing for the IAS exam from the comfort of your home, you should drill this fact in your mind that your preparation can never be complete unless and until you test your preparation. This is all the more important if you are starting your IAS preparation from your home without any coaching. But why test at all? Simply because unless you attempt mock tests on IAS pattern you will not know whether your preparation is on the right track or not. You will not be able to identify your weak and strong areas and work on those weak areas. You will not learn proper time management skills and skills to tackle negative marking. Hence the need to attempt mock tests for IAS exam.

If you have any query on how to start IAS preparation from home or outside it, you can ask in the comments below. I will be happy to answer them.

Also Read: Complete IAS Preparation Resources

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 43 comments
mahek harwani - May 1, 2017

I am cofused that which course should I take after 10 to be an ias officer. Could you pls help me. In taking the decision.

    Neethu - August 18, 2018

    It’s better to opt for humanities and then do graduation in any arts degree that you will choose as optional,eg, sociology, political science , economic setc

lk anand - June 28, 2017

respected sir/madam

i am a beginer and i need ur help in understanding the nature and prep of exam.kindly help me through this

Zara Khatoon - June 29, 2017

Hii sir,
I have completed my engineering.Now before I start my preparation at home I want to know what should I prepare first prelims or mains.

    RK REDDY - October 25, 2017

    you have to prepare for Prilims only. You will face tough competition during prelims. So prepare strongly for prelims exam.According to my knowledge mains syllabus is also somewhat same as prelims.
    More competition for prelims due to more number of aspirants.(Nearly 5 lacks aspirants).
    Less competition for mains(You will compete with around 35000 competitors)
    After the mains, you will call for interview if you crack mains.

    Hope this information helps you.All the best for your bright future.

    Aditya - March 12, 2018

    You should prepare for prelims mains then interview

Mahendra - July 9, 2017

Hi Vimlaksh,
My name is MahendraReddy,I completed BBM,I am 24 yrs old & recently married. Now I am working in BPO company, Achieving IAS is my dream & I decided to make it true.Last time I made an attempt after 6 months preparation with the help of my friend, who is getting coaching because I can’t afford money. But failed, today evening I watched this article, will you please guide me for preparing from the core.

Akshayaa - July 21, 2017

Hi .. Myself M.Akshayaa I m 21 years old.I have completed my bsc zoology UG degree this year.From childhood my aim is to become an IAS officer.But I cant take further steps because of my background. I think I m full fledged to start the preparation from now. I m so confused that where to start,what are all the materials,how to begin.I would like prepare from home hence I cant afford money. So will you please guide me .. through it from the beginning .

Uday Kumar D C - August 4, 2017

Hello i am an upsc aspirant , completed my degree just now.
I want to prepare from home & i’m not able to tackel the subjects as i get missed out easily , how is it best to study ???
1. Subject wise like finishing polity(Lakmikanth) full & then jump to other subjects or 2. Assign specific time for each subject each day???!!! please ur suggestions will be valuable!

Garima nigam - August 28, 2017

Hello sir/mam, I am a 28 years old married women and I want to crack an upsc exam from my own studies . Will you help me to choose the subjects while I have completed my M.sc. (Electronics) in 2012. And help me to how I start my studies for this.

Ashish Dangare - October 18, 2017

Sir, I am final year of graduation and new aspirant of an ias,I want to start my preparation so what’s my first step to study? Should I start with ncert or any other important…..

    IAS Kracker - October 24, 2017

    Ncerts are recommended to get going and get a hang of the fundamentals. Then you can refer other books.

Sreejith - October 24, 2017

Thanks for sharing excellent tips to crack IAS Exam.Great article !

    IAS Kracker - October 24, 2017

    Thanks sreejit!

sagar - November 8, 2017

Hello, I have completed b.tech in computer science, Now I am doing preparation of UPSC.
Could u tell me How to prepare online daily news, current affairs, study materials etc…

Kamlesh kumar - November 13, 2017

Sir i am currently doing a job in govt department, but i want to crack upsc exam my current age is 28 and i was an average studdent . Can i start preperation with continuing my job please guide me.

Vinay - February 15, 2018

Sir , my present age is 19 and I want to start preparation for IAS exam so please tell me from where to start?

Riya - February 22, 2018

I want to know which stream I should take after class 10 for IAS?
Please help me to decide so

    Rayhana - May 5, 2018

    Hi Riya ,
    Are you in 10 std?

Sneha - March 19, 2018

Sir ,ma present age is 19 and I want to start prepartion for IASexam so please tell me sir from where to start?

    THIRU - April 16, 2018

    YOU will first know the syllabus and the pattern of exam and then you should test your mind whether that syllabus you will have any awareness or not,,, that is my first suggestion

Thiru - April 16, 2018

sir, i am a final year student of BTech mechanical engineering.
I would like to prepare IAS.my doubt is recently I got campus placement I thought that by joining in campus and in free time I like to prepare soo whether it is good or bad please guide me.

Rayhana - May 4, 2018

Hello sir..Which language is better to attempt IAS exam? English or kannada pls suggest me the right one

Rayhana - May 4, 2018

Hello sir..Which language is better to attempt IAS exam? English or kannada pls suggest me the right one. I am just 15

kaviyapriya.T - May 6, 2018

I want to know how to prepare I.A.S Exam

krati - May 23, 2018

i m in 11 yet. i want to know which course I need to prepare BSC BBA BA which help me for ias

Jay patel - June 28, 2018

I’m veterinary student,and I’m preparing for ias so can you tell me sir veterinary as main subject is better or not ??

Rs Jha - July 2, 2018


My age is 24 I want to prepair UPSC exam my self at home because I don’t have a time to join classes,I my doing job.

I have completed my graduation (Accounts).Now I want to prepair for UPSC exam
I want you to please guide me best ncert IAS book for study.

Chittepu Nithisha - July 16, 2018

Sir I am 20 and this is my first year of my mbbs can i start preparing for upsc right from now or after some years if so what’s the syllabus and can please tell me all the details sir

chirag - July 27, 2018

i am currently working with a pvt. organization and doesn’t find more time to study.
Also i haven’t study in life so much or i never gave a long hours of sitting for study , that’s why i am scared of failure.
what should i do to tackle this situation(as i am also afraid of quiting my current job).
please suggest.

Ambika - August 12, 2018

sir , Iam pursuing finalyear B.tech at present. After completion of graduation i want to prepare for civils. But nothing I know about how to prepare and I want to prepare from home. Can you please help me to know what are the basic needs to prepare and how I have to prepare

Shivani sharma - August 12, 2018

Hlo sir i am presently 19yrs old and this is my first year of BDS . So, I just want guidelines that since when I should start preparing for upsc exam !!

shalini kumari - September 3, 2018

Hello Sir
I am mechanical engineering student of first year and I want to start preparing for upsc exam.
please help me!

Nishant Verma - October 7, 2018

I am planning for preparation of ias exam but my problem is time because of I am already working in govt of India group b officer at Mumbai so please advise me….

Krishna - October 21, 2018

Sir i m confuse in NCERT that which NCERT books I have to read for ias exam can u plz tell me right books to read for exam I m very confused

    IAS Kracker - October 29, 2018

    Please refer this page to know the exact NCERTs to refer for IAS exam:

Delight - November 15, 2018


I am planning to write UPSC CSE exam. I have to start everything fresh, not in touch with history, geography, etc subjects from years, since I am working as a Software Engineer from 5 years.
I am an Engineering background aspirant, now my age is 28.
I dunno where to start. Also I want to prepare in home without joining any coaching classes.
Please suggest what should be my strategy.


    IAS Kracker - November 26, 2018

    You will need to start with the basics. Read this post for more clarity on how to go about your preparation:

Mekala Bharath - November 21, 2018

How to start preparing for ias exam from home after the completion of graduation

SAPNA SINGH - December 31, 2018

I Had done my bcom and pursuing for mcom and i am beginner for IAS so can i choose other subject rather than commerce and accountancy.I just want to know mains paper contents are diferrent for optional subject or same.

    IAS Kracker - January 27, 2019

    Yes you can choose other subject apart from commerce.

Ravi M - January 4, 2019

Hi sir I completed graduation on 2013 now am working in one mnc from past 4 years, can i able to prepare for IAS exam bcoz am doing night shift from past 4 years,

thank you.

    IAS Kracker - January 27, 2019

    You have to ask this question to yourself. Can you find the time for 4 hours preparation daily atleast.


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