IAS Preparation for School and College Students

I receive many emails and comments from IAS aspirants who are in school or college asking how they should start their preparation for IAS exam keeping in view the subjects to select later on. This post helps all those who are currently studying but plan to appear for the IAS later on.

First and foremost understand the civil services or IAS exam. It’s pattern, eligibility criteria, prelims syllabus before thinking about the mains exam. Think about your school or college exam; how many unit tests or semesters are there in the academic year or your course? What are the qualifying marks required for various papers? What is their syllabus and so on. You should approach the civil services exam in a similar manner. Develop curiosity about it and understand what UPSC expects from you as an aspiring civil servant.

Going by the latest trends and changes in the pattern, UPSC expects high integrity, sound judgement, and good knowledge of current issues from IAS aspirants. What it does not want are rote learners who rely solely on optional papers to qualify the prelims or mains. That’s why optional papers have been removed completely from the Prelims and restricted to just one subject consisting of two papers in the mains. While the weightage of general studies papers has been increased significantly. Now there are two GS papers common to all in Prelims and four compulsory GS papers in the Mains.

Since GS commands such huge importance in Prelims (100%) and Mains (70%), it is obvious that you should start with GS topics when in school or college. This will give you a good launch pad when you start your actual IAS preparation since you will have knowledge of many topics beforehand and you will find them quite familiar.

What to Read First

Before diving into the required books for IAS, I suggest you start reading a good newspaper like The Hindu or Indian Express (skip ToI) combined with a good magazine like Pratyogita Darpan. You can refer this post on how to read the newspaper for IAS. This will help you develop interest in current issues happening around you.

Next, you need to expand your general awareness or build up your GK base. I highly recommend the Manorama Year Book for this purpose. It’s language is really simple to understand, the data and facts are highly reliable and most importantly it’s trusted by UPSC paper setters since many questions are routinely asked in the Prelims from this book.

The Next Step

Once you develop the habit of reading these books, magazines and newspapers you are ready to move to the next level. It is important to realize that we are still focussed on the Prelims since this is the first stage you need to clear before you can appear for the Mains exam.

You should then focus on these books for Prelims to really begin your IAS preparation in the right earnest. But since you have to also focus on your school or college studies, don’t burden yourself by getting all the books listed on the page. Chances are you won’t have enough time to go through all the books.

Rather get books that you can go through in your spare time like the Oxford Student Atlas (which will also help you with your Geography studies). If you want to go even deeper, get the GS manual for paper 1 and paper 2 by TMH since this is a nice and reliable compilation of all the subjects and topics for prelims. Besides it is a good source of general awareness issues; not to mention they are really fun to read. At least I found them so.

What About Subject Selection?

As I mentioned above, optional papers come only in the mains; not in prelims. If you are still in school, don’t bother about optional subject at this stage. Just focus on the tips I gave above. If you are in under-graduate or post-graduate college, first check if your subject(s) is offered in the civil services mains exam or not. If it is offered, ask yourself do you want to choose the same subject as the optional subject in mains? If the answer is yes, go through its syllabus and so you can stress on the part that overlaps with the UPSC syllabus. This way you can save significant time during your actual preparation.

If the answer is no, ask yourself do you have the spare time to prepare the subject you will select for mains exam along with your college studies. If you have the time, start preparing. If not, it doesn’t matter. Just wait till you devote full time to your IAS preparation then you can worry about subject slection and preparation.

The point of this discussion was to make you realize that IAS exam and its preparation is a layered process which requires constant effort and patience to complete. You have made the right choice by selecting the civil services as your career option early on during your school or college itself. Now you need to channelize your enthusiasm and make the best use of your time by following the strategy listed in this post. This way you will get a head start over others when you appear for your first attempt.

Recommended Books for IAS

Recommended For You

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. Really this post is very helpful for us.
    Sir, presently am in final year of b.com. So will it be better to do civil services after my masters or shall I go ahead directly after bachelors?

    1. Mam please tell me are you still doing b.com or masters or prepareing for civil services exams ?
      I’m also in b.com final year and suffering from same dilemma ..

  2. sir i am the student of ECE branch .. sir i want to know how i will start to prepare for IAS exam..sir please suggest me which subject will better for me as optional..and how many subject will be for this exam..please suggest briefly such that i could be a part of your institution and always i shall be obliged to you for this…..

  3. Dear sir,
    Abhi mai 12th class me hu or mai science liya hu,pr mujhe interest ips job me h,ips bane ke liye kya krna padega sir or kon sa book most h.please tell me sir

  4. Sir…what if astrologer says that u cannot go in govt job.. u can go only for engineering stream..im having science..my astrologer said this to me..but I want to go for ias what to do..my

  5. Hi sir,
    I am currently working in IBM and I have not aware about IPS exams… so after reading this I am feeling to try…. so I am 28 running now… I have very short period to attempt exams n I need to look forward on this… could you pls suggest me…. when n whr d exams will take place n when we need to apply for this n wht s d cut of date to apply…. ?

  6. sir.. i will highly obliged if you will provide me with ur email or contact. . i am at vry peak point.. i.e. end of my graduation.. and cnfusd in taking final decisions..
    thank you.. 🙂

  7. Sir.i want to know that for an optionl subject i have to choose two optionl subject or only one…i am pursuing my btech from civil engineering..do i hv to choose 2 optionl lyk history plus geogrphy..so smthng lyk tht…or i hv to choose either civil engineering…or geogrphy….or history

  8. Sir i m from bpl i also want to became an IAS Officer and i m in school please tell me that where are the IAS schools and colleges are located so that i can start my pepration from npw onwards only plzzzz

  9. Hi mam , i want to just ask you that i cleared my +2 exams with 94 %(in best 4) from commerce stream in 2014 and than i did a diploma course of elementary teachers ..
    And now i want to go for graduation first i want to ask you that whether i should go for regular or non collegiate for the same..and second what subjects i should choose in ba program .. to best prepare for civil services.

  10. sir howmany hours is required for study during graduation. tell me some tips how can i do time management.i am in bsc first year.

  11. Sir ,
    I have no idea about IAS study …..but i really want to do IAS study. Can u say me sir,what i do for it. So plz say me sir when i apply for it and which site. Plzz plzzz sir help me

  12. Hello sir
    I m an arts student studing in 11th std. My dream is to become an ias officer but i dont have much idea about it.
    Plz make me understand

  13. I appreciate your article as well as effort to motivate aspirants to start from their schooling days. As parents wish their kids should become IAS or IPS but they donot mold them accordingly.Your website should be promoted among parents as they go for coaching for engineering from 9 onwards but never ask their kids to prepare for IAS from school time.

  14. Sir,i am studying in bba second year, I am interested in studying bussiness management as bachelor’s degree .,Buti want crack Civil’s to become IFS. I should start preparation from now only or I should complete my degree

  15. Sir I am studying in 7th std in Application national public school i am interested in IAS to study can u plz guide me hw can go furthur

  16. SIr am doing ,dairy technology its abranch of food technology if i applied for IAS which subject can i choose as a optional??

  17. sir i am doing b.com & i am a final year student i want to know how to start preparation for upsc & how much i should score in b.com for upsc examination?

  18. Sir I am presently studying in class 10 and my aim is to become an IAS officer but I don’t know what is the correct path for my goal..Please tell me what I should do to persuating my dreams..And what subject should I choose…????

    1. sir I am presently studying in 10th and my dream is to become an IAS. But I don’t know the correct path to become an IAS. so, I request to tell me more details for my aim please. What subject should I choose to study in 11 and 12th for my goal, Will I need to study college, How years I need to study?. I kindly request you to help me for my aim perhaps god may bless you! My dream is to make one of the district in India in good condition by helping the people whatever they need. please help me.

  19. Sir

    i my son interested in IAS to study can u plz guide me hw can go furthur. Any coaching center for children who are interested to study IAS in vishakapatnam

    1. My daughter is 7th passed I want to go for IAS from 8th Class itself can you suggest any residential school for coatching.can u suggest any good institution.

  20. Sir, currently I am in 9th standard and thinking for IAS preparation because I really like this job. I didn’t understood everything you mentioned here but yes it was really helpful what I understood, so thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *