How to Start IAS Preparation at Home

how to start IAS preparation from home

How to Begin Preparing for the 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 the 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 preparation 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.

Also Read: How to prepare for IAS without coaching

#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 a vast amount of information but you don’t need to go too much 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.

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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 the 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 at least 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.

#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 papers 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 queries 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

Recommended Books for IAS

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About the Author: IAS Kracker

IAS Kracker is your friend, mentor and guide to help you crack the IAS exam. We have been guiding hundreds of IAS Aspirants since 2009 to help realize their dream of cracking the IAS exam. Know more about us.


  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 .

  6. 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!

  7. 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 (Electronics) in 2012. And help me to how I start my studies for this.

  8. 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…..

  9. Hello, I have completed 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…

  10. 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.

    1. 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

  11. sir, i am a final year student of BTech mechanical engineering.
    I would like to prepare 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.

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

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

  14. Sir/Madam,

    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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. sir , Iam pursuing finalyear 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

  18. 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 !!

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

  20. 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

  21. Hello,

    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.


  22. Hello,
    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.

  23. 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.

  24. IAS coaching has become a necessity for most IAS aspirants as competition is very high. Quality of teaching and material is very important for any civil service examinations. You are providing good information for such students who preparing for the competitive exam. Thanks for sharing the valuable information.

  25. I have complete my graduation in mechanical engineering and I want to preparing for IAS so how to star the preparing for exam and which book I have read in starting because I don’t have an idea how to star the preparing please give me the good suggestion

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