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How to Start IAS Preparation at Home

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.

#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

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I am your friend, mentor and guide to help crack the IAS exam. I've cleared the Prelims everytime including the first and also reached the Interview stage. Know more about me

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
mahek harwani

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.

lk anand

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

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.


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.


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