The Working Person’s Guide to IAS Preparation

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The IAS bug catches everyone; school kids, undergraduates, graduates, doctorates, as also working people among them. After all the Civil Services is one of the most prestigious careers in India one can aspire for.

But working people face some unique constraints when they decide to jump onto the IAS bandwagon. Constraints of time, resources, energy, focus, and responsibilities. Those preparing for civil services exam full time are to a large extent free of such constraints.

However not all these constraints are hurdles. Some are blessings in disguise while others can be overcome with the right planning and effort. After all when we are determined how can a 9-6 job stop us from realizing our goal?

 Make the Best Use of Time at Your Disposal

This might seem a most obvious thing to do when preparing for the IAS given the fact that you have very little time to devote exclusively to IAS preparation so it makes sense to utilize it most effectively. But the question is How to make the optimal use of time in our hands?

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You might have heard in coaching classes and from your friends that one has to prepare for 15-18 hours every day to crack the IAS. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Working people don’t have the luxury of dedicating 15 hours daily to IAS preparation. Nor is it required. Instead, get smart with your preparation. Instead of trying to cover the entire syllabus, be selective. Pick the sections that are easy to score and cover.

For prelims these topics include current affairs, maps, polity, comprehension, passage, decision making, and statistics. These topics are easy to score off and can be prepared while traveling and in your free time not just while preparing in your study time. If possible keep a copy of Manorama Year Book and Student Atlas in your bag so you can quickly reference some facts while traveling or in your lunch time.

GK based topics are fun to read for most, make sure you don’t pick a tedious topic as these require forced effort and greater focus, two elements that are in short supply while traveling or during office hours. The best way to build your knowledge base is by reading things that your find interesting and which excite you.

Do you like to know more about the facts of India or maybe about sports or philately or just anything. This is the right way to read a year book and the one I recommend is Manorama Year Book for this purpose. The language is lucid, information is accurate, and there is a question bank that is both fun to attempt and knowledge giving.

Also Read: List of Recommended Books for IAS Exam

Map based questions are also easy to score off and if you dedicate even 15 minutes to studying the atlas everyday you can get almost all the map based questions correct in the Prelims. But maps cannot be mastered in just 10 or 15 days. Doing so will leave you more confused that confident. Rather, develop a habit of going through the atlas once daily.

The best approach to start with atlas study is to glance through the maps to just get an idea of the country, its coasts, oceans , states. After you have familiarized yourself go for more in-depth study by focusing on physical geography of states, national highways, mountains, glaciers, rivers, islands, inland seas etc.

For studying maps I recommend the Oxford Student Atlas which is the recommended atlas by experienced IAS aspirants and past IAS toppers as well. The maps are detailed, font is quite clear and information is accurate.

Another way to make the most of available time is to read the newspaper or a good magazine in your free time. Watch this video where I explain how you should read the newspaper. The Hindu and The Indian Express are both high quality newspapers. If you can’t get hold of the former go with the latter. When reading newspapers focus on editorials and news articles that are of relevance to IAS preparation. Skip the glitzy Page 3 stories that are nowadays the main selling point of other dailies like ToI.

So you can see having less time is no reason to not prepare for the IAS. By making the right use of limited time, you can turn this seeming liability into an asset. Leave the more time consuming topics like Science, History etc to weekends and holidays or early morning schedule.

Get More Done in Less Time

The thing with time as well as money is we tend to waste a lot of it when available in excess. The same hold true of civil services preparation. Aspirants who have been preparing full time for two or more years tend to become less productive make less than optimal use of time at their disposal.

As a working person who is hard pressed for time you should make the most of the limited preparation time you get. If you read Tim Ferris’s excellent book The Four Hour Work Week, he speaks of the 80/20 principle (first propounded by economist Vilfredo Pareto) which states that we get 80 percent of the work done in 20 percent of the time, the rest is usually wasted.

You can use this principle to telling effect in your IAS preparation. Focus on getting the maximum done in least amount of time. For this you will need to prepare a list of things to study, the most important first. Then assign just enough time or slightly less to cover these topics but not too less as this will put undue pressure on you. You will feel an urgency to cover the chosen topics as compared to studying without proper planning or strategy.

Develop a Routine and Stick to It

It’s not for nothing that I wrote this post developing a routine for IAS preparation. Routine enables you to develop focus and prepare the syllabus within a short time. Developing a routine is even more essential for  working people due to limited time available to them.

Pick a time slot, maybe in the evening or night or early morning where you can study uninterrupted for 2-3 hours. Some people prefer late night study while others like the calm and serenity of early mornings. Take your pick but stick to it. Even 2-3 hours of dedicated study coupled with the above tips to read a magazine, newspaper, year book or atlas during the day hours can be an effective preparation plan.

Obviously you will need to take some pains to stay awake late or wake up early to study but then cracking the IAS while working does take some extra effort. But the fruit is well worth it.

You Don’t Have to Leave Your Job to Prepare for IAS

I get queries from working people asking should they leave their jobs to focus on IAS preparation. Well, let’s confess while putting in a year of dedicated preparation is ideal not many people have the luxury of leaving their jobs.

Especially those handling familial responsibilities as well. In that case let me assure you, you can very well prepare while working. Many people have cracked the civil services exam while working and you can too.The new prelims pattern is such that you no longer need to focus exclusively one subject to sail through.

Rather the focus is on general awareness, environment, decision making, language skills and basic mathematics. All these topics can very well be prepared while working at the same time. This is what the above tips are all about. At the most you should take about 15 days leave before the prelims for quick revision and about a month off from the job, if possible, before the IAS mains.

Having a Job Has its Own Benefits

Yes this is true. The IAS exam is such that if you crack it in the first or second attempt you’re on the top of the world but as the years and attempts roll by, there’s a sense of insecurity that can impede your preparation, hinder your focus and thus further heightens the insecurity in a vicious circle. Much of this insecurity is economic in nature as you invest your most productive years in an unknown territory.

Working people are to a large extent free of such insecurities. They have a job to fall back on. This in turn helps them be calm and collected and solely focus on their preparation without bothering too much about possible failure. And remember, preparing without thinking about the end result is actually the best way to prepare for this exam.

Even though it’s quite difficult to achieve such a poised state of being. Secondly, people with jobs can invest some resources in important coaching activities like test series, mock interviews etc which are luxuries not everyone can afford.

The other big advantage working people have is during the interview stage and this can be huge. The interview panel looks favourably upon someone who has reached the interview while working as this means they have something to fall back on and have previous job experience as well. People working in the public sector especially have an edge as compared to someone who has been preparing full time for years.

Have Will? Will Do

Ultimately it’s a question of will power. Are you prepared to overcome these hurdles to achieve your cherished goal? This is why I highlight the will to win as the foremost quality to develop in the IAS motivation video. The same holds true for those preparing full time. no amount of time or coaching can see you through if you don’t take action, don’t utilize the time and notes available at your disposal.

So buckle up and take action.  Preparing for IAS while working is seemingly hard but the journey is very much possible once you decide to undertake it. Do so today.

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 109 comments
Arif Jamal - August 12, 2011

I am so grateful to you forwriting this article here. I am working guy and now I am much much eased. Though I was very much dedicated to do it, but now it's like working with four times energy.

Thanks alot once again,

Keep writing your the world best tips.


    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    Glad it could motivate you Arif!

      Mr. gupta - September 19, 2013

      I need to know is there any age relaxation (Upper Age Limit) for working professional in PSU. Please let me know if u can.

    sonu kumar - March 20, 2012

    Hi Jamal,

    I am also working and am thinking about IAS and ips preparation and i am working with bpo, and my financial condition is not good.
    can you suggest me how can i do ?
    plz reply

    sonu kumar

    sid - April 5, 2014

    Sir , does the job experience helps while taking an interview?

      IAS Kracker - April 13, 2014

      Yes it helps a lot

zoha - August 12, 2011

Respected sir,Thank you for your suggestions that you are giving to us but you have not written how to prepare for MAINS while working & as you wrote be selective for topics which topics to be chosen for mains in public administration & sociology please suggest because as a fresher i have no any idea & if possible reply on my email & send me solved main papers of public ad,sociology,essay& compulsory language paper english & hindi.Please do reply on my email & how to contact you there is no contact on your blog,please replyas soon as possible.Thank you

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    I will post about Mains preparation as well. Regarding solved Mains and Pre paper sorry I don't have them but you can get them from the market if you wish

Pinky kumari - August 12, 2011

i m working woman i aspire to b an ias.i hav cracked prelims in 2008 n 2010.i got an oppotunity to seat in d mains n i realised dat mains is much easier than p.t. but as i m working since 2008 in a psu i cudnt utilize my little free time well for d preparation. i find ur msg very helpful n guiding tool for my preparation. thanking u very much.

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    You're welcome Pinky and All the Best for your Mains!

Vinay - August 12, 2011

Excellent article. Aptly sums up all the problems an aspirant has to go through while holding a job.

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    Thanks Vinay!

ansh - August 13, 2011

sir,i wud b turning 30 on 17th aug 2012.can i sit for the i.a.s 2012 prelims exam next yr ?

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    Yes you have one last try left!

MAHENDRA KUMAR GUPTA - August 13, 2011

Respected Sir

I am working in SBI and have very little time for preparation. This article would motivate me to use this time to achieve our goal. Thanks a lot.

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    Glad to be of assistance Mahendra!

Prashant - August 13, 2011

Dear Sir

Thanks a lot for this kind of much needed guidance…as a working person i always had this dilemma whether to go full fledged IAS or to leave the job as Engineer in PSU …now i have got the confidence …I have read your all articles and thanks for standing out among group of mixed and confused directors….many Q's were boggeling my mind regarding job, coaching ….and most amazing question that always stole my sleep is "can i do it with job and without coaching"…both doubts pretty much satidfied by your articles sir….

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    Glad this article cleared most of your doubts Prashant!

PRADEEP KUMAR SHAW - August 14, 2011

working as assistant in railway board, i have been preparing the same way as you have advised. this is my last chance if i cleared pre. now i am sure to follow but what will be the result of prelims, makes me uneasy. thank u very much for ur guidance.

    Lazylord - August 15, 2011

    You're welcome Pradeep

PALLAVI - August 15, 2011

motivating article…..

if you think u will loose, u r lost…

for out in d world we find,success begins wid a fellow's will


    AYUSH PUSKAR - October 3, 2011


    Harsh - June 24, 2012

    When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high,
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about,
    When he might have won had he stuck it out;
    Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
    You may succeed with another blow.
    Often the goal is nearer than,
    It seems to a faint and faltering man,
    Often the struggler has given up,
    When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
    And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
    How close he was to the golden crown.
    Success is failure turned inside out–
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems so far,
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Preparing for Civil Service While working. - August 15, 2011

[…] we could definitely make it. All d Best. Pls go thru the below link that I hav read recently The Working Person's Guide to IAS Preparation | IAS Kracker Blog Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « queries.. […]

Dr.Vikas - August 16, 2011

Thank You so much it is a very good article for working people like me very much motivating and inspiring also making us believe that it is possible clearing the exam while working.

Thank you


Saranya - August 16, 2011

Hi Sir,

Thanks for the article. As I am working, I was really confused how to prepare and I get 2-3 hours hardly. I was thinking whether is it sufficient, but with this article I got a confidence that I can prepare well with time I get to prepare. Thanks for your help.

Bappa - August 18, 2011

You have written a nice article. Many working IAS aspirants would be benefited from it. I am one of them.Carry on publishing such morale boosting articles till we working people reached our goals.


jyoti - August 18, 2011

Hi Sir

its really a motivating factor. i was even confused on this part as i m working tooo. feeling relieved now 🙂

raahat - August 20, 2011

sir, how will you read the paper THE HINDU of date 19 august 2011 with heading Bring revised Lokpal bill,insists Hazare & Rajya sabha wants Justice Soumitra Sen removed how will you note the points & make notes show by writing not video please reply ,Thank you

Sapna - August 29, 2011

Hello Sir,

Is there any requirement of height to join IAS..? I know there is a requirement for IPS…

I'm really anxious to know. Could you please revert…?



    SHYAM - September 3, 2011

    No sapna…there is no such requirement for IAS cadre….

    kislay - September 3, 2011

    respected sapna sister


    govt. of india reserve reservation to reject or accept any candidate after considering the report of medical board.

    for non-technical services,

    medical board seeks to satisfy itself in matter of correlation of age limit , height and chest girth of candidates for which it is their's sole responsibility to decide that figure.i think it is confidential as there's no mentioning of the same any where because i've visited the website of min. of personnel ,govt. of india and upsc.

    if you came to know about it ,please share.

    with best wishes


      Sapna - September 6, 2011

      Thanks a lot Shyam

      Sapna - September 6, 2011

      Kislay, thanks very much for this information….

    AYUSH PUSKAR - October 3, 2011

    no there is not any height restriction for becoming an ias officer ….just u have to fulfill the medical test after u compete in ur written exams ,,…………..

SHYAM - September 3, 2011

Thanx a ton for this article….i was confused about the same that how to prepare while @ office but ideas suggested by you are very helpful and gave me a new energy and motivation…thanx.

i want you to plz upload the book list for psychology mains..your book list for pub ad …i found it very helpful..especially in the way you jotted it down…

    kislay - September 20, 2011

    hallo Mr. shyam,

    here is a web-link where you will get a book GET SET GO IAS ;this book has very indespensable feature of most of your questions regarding civil services examination.

    with regards


RAJ - September 27, 2011

I am BE in Computer Science and a working software professional. What subject were best for me ?

Please suggest me….

abhinav - September 28, 2011


Sir i am B.Tech in Electronics and Communication and i am working in a software company.I am planning to keep Electrical and Physics as my optional.Please tell me that is this a good combination of subject? Also please guide me how to prepare for these subjects as there is lack of good guidance regarding science and engineering subjects.

Thanks in advance.

swapnil - October 5, 2011

thanx 4 ur valuable information n motivation…thnx a lot

Vishal - October 17, 2011

Hi Sir,

I am an IT professional and will be completing 5 yrs this Nov in my organisation. I wish to take up IAS and hence have planned for the prelim preparation. Currently I am deputed to US for my work assignment and a personal and professional level commitment requires me to be here for atleast another year. Considering this, I am planning to takeup the prelims for 2013.
– Is this plan rational from schedule perspective?
– I will be getting my notes and other material to US in a couple of weeks, just wanted to know what all challenges you foresee in my preparations?
– Any tips you would advice me.

ayush tak - October 17, 2011

Thanx alot sir!!! This is the right material that i was looking for ages!!! you have done a great job!!


i am doing computer science engineering(III year). What subject i must choose?
is sociology and mathematics is a good option?

IAS Kracker - October 21, 2011

You’re welcome 🙂

Santosh - November 2, 2011

G8t website , very well organized and informative.Appreciate your effort .. 🙂

Jitendra Gupta - November 15, 2011

I’ve read Topper’s Tips by Nagarjuna and “How to crack IAS exam” by Rankers. Learnt a lot from them. This is next in this best-series of articles. As I am working in software industry, there is project pressure. I usually use my time in reading the Hindu, frontline, gktoday.in and wikipedia online. After your this article, I can focus more to utilize my free time for more productive preparation. Rightly said, there is 80/20 ratio in utilization of time. I will try to improve this ratio.

Thanks for the article.
Jitendra Gupta

shiva - December 6, 2011

very informative…those who r preparing,IAS while working…..

Tnank u sir….,,for u r article

Raghuvash - December 19, 2011

Hey ,

I have been looking for such guidence since few days , as i am working in a MNC abroad and have passion for IAS , and keen interest in public admistration and Policy making … my target is IAS 2013 considering my capability and constraints .

thanks a lot

Neeraj - January 2, 2012

Hi All,

This is a wonderful blog and a very useful resource for IAS aspirants. And the working person’s guide does a great job for motivating working people for IAS. However, I wanted to share some personal experience and point out some pitfalls of this approach.

Before you consider preparing while working, you should have a clear cut understanding of your own capabilities, especially with respect to hitting the books again after many years spent on the job. CSE, especially the Mains, requires more effort than studying for a degree. It is not just one, but two degrees (for two optionals)! And there is no semester system, just 6 hours per subject, per year of exams. It is more work than doing a double degree in an evening college (minus the fun)…

Also, it might be helpful to do a “dry run” of the preparation process before fully committing to this approach. How many hours will each optional take to cover its syllabus, 100, 200 or even 300? I humbly suggest timing yourself. Is 40 pages an hour a good reading speed? For 2000 pages of reading material, it means 50 hours. And no matter how brilliant one is, revision (at least once) is a must.

As Lazylord has pointed out, quality of study is much more important than quantity. Studying during working hours is a waste of time. Also, studying with full concentration while commuting to work is impossible for many of us. Studying after working 9 hours can never be as good as reading with a fresh mind. In effect, it leads to increase in quantity to compensate for quality.

All working people like us treasure our days off from work. For some of us it is only Sunday. Rest and recreation are the easiest and even the only thing to be sacrificed. But they are extremely important for our well-being. Fully utilising holidays for IAS preparation means working without a day off for months. It will take its toll on the quality of preparation and most of all, on motivation. Be prepared!

My experience is that GS is much more than reading the Year Book, newspapers, etc. It also should cover news on the radio, websites and discussion with others. GS alone will take a couple of hours every day. Does that leave enough time to prepare for two optionals? Writing practice and making notes also require extra time.

Hope this helps. Thanks.


Narendra - January 3, 2012

I must say some people have this inherent qualities to motivate others, you sure are one of them..:) I was in the mid of the first stage of deciding whether “I should” or “I should not” prepare for civil services, considering I am already in a corporate job with a super hectic schedule. But the attitude which this article tries to explain about is sufficient enough to take the necessary pains to sail through. I for sure have got this motivation and I have also bookmarked this page for future motivation in times of distress..:)

Once again I thank you for your inputs, Manorma Year book and the Oxford Atlas are up there in my to do list for tomorrow morning..

Thanks a ton!!


    IAS Kracker - January 6, 2012

    Glad you found it useful Narendra!

Amit - January 3, 2012

Hi..I am a final year MBA student.i have started my IAS preparation from 25th dec 2011,so it gives me just 5 months for prliems and i am new to this IAS wonderland.I am planning to take Public admin & Geography.All i want to know is that 5 months is enough(though i know it sounds impossible) for an avaerge intelligence level person.I can devote 4-5 hours daily.

    IAS Kracker - January 6, 2012

    Although you can cover the GS syllabus within the time available, optionals can be unmanageable to cover within just 3.5 months after Pre. Still if you have attempts at hand you can try to get some valuable experience.

sachin - January 10, 2012

thx sir i always dreamd to be an ips officer. but i have to earn is well to support my family. but this article is just motivated me so much that now i am starting preparing for it.

i have already has most part of csat covered so for gs i am preparing geo,polity,modrn history and economics and ya currnt affrs of course. so this will be enough or u want to suggest nything else any suggestion would be highly appreciated

vishal - January 27, 2012

thanks lazylord for the inspiring article. Its key for working ppl like me to believe that cracking CS exam is possible. Please keep up this great work!

    IAS Kracker - January 29, 2012

    Glad you found it useful Vishal… I will!

Tani - January 30, 2012

Hello Sir,
I am a final year MBA student and willing to appear for the CSAT exam this year..But, I havent started any preparations yet. Can you please suggest me how can i do my best in the available time ( which I know is very less)?
Please share with me the most essential things that I need to cover for the exams in May..
Awaiting your reply…

life - February 21, 2012

Thanx a ton !! actually i am geared up

Madhuri - February 28, 2012

thank u so much for ur article
Me pursuing B.Tech(ECE) final yr, me gng to give my first atmpt in UPSC CIVIL services 2012 ,me thnkng to select Public admnt & 2nd sub as either Electrical engg or Geography which sub is good for scoring?? i heard tht geography is scoring sub than electrical engg z it true?????please help me i din’t’ve any idea abt it i’ve sharply 2.5 mnths for prelims hw cn i prepare in this short time??plzzzz rply me

    IAS Kracker - March 4, 2012

    Hi Madhuri,

    Pub Ad is considered more “scoring” then any engg subject but then score actually depended on individual aptitude. 2.5 months time is adequate provided you have sound knowledge of Prelims otherwise go for 2013. What’s the rush?

      Sid - March 30, 2012

      Hello Lazylord,

      Thanks for all your help to the aspirants of IAS. I will be taking Civil Services Exams for the first time next year and at the moment I am very much confused with the choice of subjects and the way to prepared, moreso because I am outside India at the moment.

      Can you please care to share your contact details so that I can call you and discuss something? I Am sure as an experience guide you can help me here.

      Many thanks

Hari - March 12, 2012


prashant gautam - March 14, 2012

hi sir,
Good article and with sufficient motivation.
I am in a fix and do not really know wht to do..
i have given 2 attempts and both times written mains … i left my job in 2009 aftr 2year work exprnce. and now i m feeling the burden of being a bueden.

2 months remaining i hve a IAS prelims. and since 1st march mains result i could not sleep or study. just thinking of doing job as software engg in my previous domain in NCR region (in softwre field i was a developer and had to develop codes for 10-12 hrs a day, may be in some new company work may be a bit les say 7-8 hrs) but i am afraid that i will kill all my done work…

i think of taking tutions in delhi but then still going to places and teaching will again take 5-6 hours.

all i do is just think think n think and could not decide… i continue to feel like a burden …and no surity that i will qualify or not as i and at low confidence level now….

my frinds preparing here in delhi asking me to leav all tension and just study….

i am doubtful that if i join ..will i be able to qualify…even prelims…

and i am also aware that if i join job and give mains and in next march if luck by chance i get intrview call it will be a positive effect on board as a working guy i am giving intrview…
i am in dilemma and at crossroad… please help

    Prashanth DN - October 20, 2013

    Dear prashant gautam,

    I can very well understand your situation as I’m also working in a s/w industry and am finding it hard to find time for studies. I also work for more than 9 hrs a day in Bengaluru and it takes totally 3 hours to commute. Everyday, I think whether to quit job for preparation or just continue preparing along with job. From all my analysis + this blog, I strongly feel that having a job in hand for people like me or you is very important. Why I said it is important for you is, you seem to be feeling bit insecure (from your reply). So, dear friend, try to be in a job, even a low salary job will do but be in a job that pays.
    For people who don’t have any financial commitment, don’t have any dependents, etc. quitting job may be better.

Mango_Dolly - March 27, 2012

Hello All,

I have recently [as recent as 2 weeks back ] decided to take Civil Services Exams (hereafter CSE) in 2013. I always wanted to take civil services exams, but due to one or other reasons, things got procrastinated. Typical me! Duh!

It all started one day when I interacted with one of my close friend who got through CSE (Mains). It was very inspiring to talk to him and understand his plans for future. That interaction left a deep impact on me. Guileless as I was, since then I had been day dreaming, about becoming IAS/IPS officers, roaming in ‘laal-batti gaddi’ and impress family and friends etc. Balderdash??

In midst of all this dreaming, there were other things doing rounds in my mind – my current financial commitments. Since I am from a middle class family and with an existing House Loan (> 30K p.m. and currently in its 4th year) and younger sister’s impending marriage (which has certain fixed costs apart from variable component) … how would things sustain post getting through CSE, and as a civil servant, when I would definitely get way less than what I make now. Though it is very premature for me to think about all this, but will be a valid question at some point in future and I need to be prepared for it. Let’s see how generous banks are to me then!!

Nonetheless, in midst of all these confusions one fine day, I had a ‘Newton’s Apple Falling Moment’ and I I don’t know how, but I was able to collect enough strength and the right level of motivation to decide that civil services with GOI is where I belong – power, responsibility and high job satisfaction. My parents and little sister were very supportive of this decision.

Unmarried and with around 7.5 yrs of IT work experience, I have another 3 yrs to go(thanks to my reserved category), before my candidature render ineligible. Working people have their own challenges. I reach office by 9-9:30am and reach back home around 8pm. By the time I had little rest and done with dinner it is already 10-10:30pm. By then my eyes weighs down and the body draws me to bed like two unlike magnetic poles do when coming in close contact. In all this, do you think I would be left with stamina, mindset, energy and motivation to read-understand-analyse (synchronously) and make notes on how “McGregor took forward Follet’s ideas in the context of complex organizations”?? Are you f**king kidding me? Spare me the horror!! *zzzZZZZZZ*

So the only time I get during weekdays is early morning (5am – 8am max) after which I have to go to office. Working in office hours will be completely erratic as we are not sure of when we would get free/or get occupied. This destroys the grasping tempo and hence is completely non-value adding. You can read online newspaper or do related *light weight* parsing of study material.

In today’s competitive environment with cut-throat competition in almost everything, peer promotions or appraisals are not an exception. So, if you plan to prepare for civil services exams (with a hope to get through), you will have to put in your best foot forward and work extremely hard (with smart inputs from time to time). This shift in goal-post for the time period you decide to concentrate on CSE, affects your ability to do good & work hard in your office stuff. Your manager will be the first one to pick Vajiram/DD Basu vibes, which one naively exuberates in random schmooze in office.

I don’t know about others but my manager is little weird and If I am late someday, he gives me this “try to come early or I shall have your balls for my door knob” look! 😐 WTF??

So, as you slowly get deeper into the preparation, you gradually run risk of moving to the bottom 10% in the forced performance bell curve of your organization (pathetic I must say). This would ensure you get a tiny performance linked bonus and your chances of getting promotion, difficult. So in order to gain something (civil services in this case), which is uncertain, you risk losing things which are certain viz; good performance –> good appraisal –> good bonus + promotion.

I am not saying all working professional preparing for CSE, would face this fate, but majority of work ex guys find it difficult to maintain the balance between office and CSE work.

So what is the way out?

I spent the last few days scanning internet for information on CSE and I must admit I am I am f**king clueless & scared, contemplating where to start from and what to study. Of what I have gathered after going through several sites and forums that proper planning, smarter study, intelligent guess w.r.t syllabus, using IT to best use etc can make the difference, even for working professionals.

But I think it is easier said than done. But let me not lose hope and big my best shot.

A high level view of what I intend to do would be to:
1. Scan the course of IAS and find out what to study, how much to study and then estimate the effort involved.

2. Go a little deeper into the CSE syllabus of each subject and find out if studying them in depth (for Mains) is feasible. Narrow down the list of subjects and then look into last few years question paper for the subjects and see the type of questions asked. Based on these and few other factors finalise the core mains optional.

3. Once activity 1 & 2 are complete, come up a detailed CSE Study Project Plan with milestones. E.g. NCERT Book Study Complete, Indian Polity – Laxmikanth Complete etc. Keep buffer time in between.

4. In all this, continue with the usual daily work of newspaper/journal reading and other daily activities that needs to be done.

Since, I intend to take CSE next year; I am in no hurry to jump to study. I first need to organize myself and hence I intend to spend the next 1-2 weeks working on all this, before I start the work.

I hope I get the necessary courage! 🙂

    Fruit_n_nut - April 3, 2012

    I read the article then all the comments. The article is inspiring. But your analysis is also realistic. A person with 8 hrs job has little time (excluding two hrs which I waste in commuting).Then the manager thing is also true(appraisal n performance stuff).Sometimes there are circumstances which are not in your control.But leaving a job is not a good option. I think somehow you have to cope with ur circumstances. There is nothing on the earth you cannot have once you have mentally accepted the fact that you can have it~Robert Collier.

      karan - October 5, 2012

      truely said……

ekta - April 13, 2012

Hello sir, I am ekta. I want to prepare for cse

2013. Kindly tell me about books, syllbus, topics to be covered first and strategy for pre. I am working. Please send me the details at my email id -ektasrivastava333@gmail.com

rahul - May 5, 2012

hello sir,
i am studying BE in electrical&electronics engineering,but ofter completing my course i am 26years,i was much intrested in ias, can i prepare for ias during that age.or should i prepare for exams since from now..if so how should i preapeare sir,kindly guide me the proper way to crack ias,i was much worried about tat…plzzzzz

Amit - May 8, 2012

I am chartered Accountant and looking to pursue IAS. I just want to know if due to any reason i.e age constraint, i am not able to break the Main exam. Did the knowledge gained during the studies will help to get into other civil service.

appu - May 21, 2012

Thank u… This is really helpful and motivating… 🙂

vibhavkum - May 28, 2012

iam working as an engineer in birla grp and hv 2attempt left for IAS xam…general catogary …hw to get start for IAS2013…..i hv not gvn xam ths yr due to lack of prprtn…kindly gv sm tips for it

Rajesh kumar jha - May 29, 2012

I am working in government office and i aspire for civil services. I am 22 years old and have 4 chances . As i cannot go for coaching institutes all i have to do is self study . But i am unable to decide what to study, and how to start prep.?
Is it possible without coaching guidance…to crack CS.

dhrumil - May 31, 2012

these all about prelims but what about mains?? please put such guide for mains as well..since your such stuff are very motivating and also very helpful

Abinaya Rajamohan - June 2, 2012


Abinaya Rajamohan - June 2, 2012

will self study works?……….

    raj - July 17, 2012

    depends a lot on what your orientation is. If u r very thorough and confident, self study is the best…else, i would suggest a good institute. bcoz, wat they do in a day might tke us a week or more smetimes….

Khushal Khanal - July 5, 2012

Thanks buddy. Really inspirational.

    Lazylord - July 21, 2012

    Glad you found it useful Khushal!

Sumit Pawar - July 17, 2012

Greetings for the day,
I feel with will power one can change the world around and i am really impressed by the the taught.

Many Thanks

chandresh - August 6, 2012

thanks a lot dear thats good and motivational article and help me entirely….thanks again

ritesh singh rathore - August 28, 2012

Thanks a lot Sir. I am planing to go for civil services but i am working in an IT company.So i was thinking whether it is possible to crack the exam while doing almost 8-10 hr job.But after reading your article i have firmly decided to go for the exam.Your article was both motivational and practical.It give me lot of hope and from my experience i know that hope is the one of the most powerful weapons that mankind have.Thanks again for your inspirational article.

eager4dfray - September 5, 2012

Sir, your blog is great. It has really helped me. But I have a doubt!
If I will be taking coaching for G.S. both Prelims + Mains, then do i need to read any books apart from the coaching material?
Would books like TMH G.S. Mannual and Manorma book of the year still be required?
Can you recommend any good coaching institutes for G.S?
Awaiting Reply!!

karan - October 5, 2012

Thank You so much sir for this inspirational article.Your article is so motivational and hopeful.It gave me a new way to think.

praveen - December 29, 2012

Sir, i m an engineer by profession & working in MNC i want to prepare & crack the IAS while doning the job. My financial condition just not allow to me to leave my job.Surely ur article has given me a new energy & way of thinking that if other can than why not me.

thanks once again.

Akash Anil - March 3, 2013

Hi Sir,
I want to prepare for the IAS exam which I want to take in 2014. Sir I want to ask that what are the age citeria for a OBC candidate?
At present I am persuing M.Tech in Computer Science & Engg from IIT Guwahati. So, what should be the scoring subjects which I should select and what should be the strategy to crack the exam in first attempt. I know I will get less time as compared to full time candidates but after reading ur article I am ready for preparation and highly motivated. Thanks a ton Sir..

Tina - April 25, 2013

How is Orient Black Swan School Atlas? Is it not good as Oxford School Atlas?

Tina - April 26, 2013

How is Orient Black Swan School Atlas? Is it not good as Oxford School Atlas?
Kindly guide

vikram - May 2, 2013

Dear Lazylord,
I read your article I wanted to prepare for the ssc cgl exam which is not as tough as ias and i am working in call centre it gave me very good strength because i seriously want to prepare i don’t want to waste my life in the call centre now i will start my preperation with the four times energy pls continue writing such encouraging articles as they give guys like me a ray of hope of turning their life if you get time pls give me a reply on my mail id. May God bless you………………

stithaprajna - May 10, 2013

Hi lazy lord am persuing my mbbs 1st year now. I feel good abt wat u hav said. can i get IAS if i prepare the manorama, atlas buks from now on wards til i cmplete my undergraduate..!

Chandrashekar - June 10, 2013

Thanks a lot for valuable tips.

CosmosChild - July 19, 2013

Excellent article and very motivating indeed ! I am planning to go for post grad and side by side prepare for civil.It is going to be little hectic but like you, I also believe in 80/20 rule. I actually quit my job for civil because as a female it was too hectic for me to work in day and come home and do household work;it used to leave me exhausted mentally and physically.Another point is not everyone can study at their workstations as it may not be allowed or may land them in trouble unnecessarily. Thanks for your valuable tips , very helpful.

nayana - August 15, 2013

i want detials about mains optional subjects along with core subjects

Aditya - December 10, 2013

i m a student of btech(electronics nd communication) .. i m willing to prepare for adminstrative services..which subject should i select nd sir one thing which always struck my mind is i dont hv knowledge of general science nd current affair nd due to this i’m demoralised ..plz suggest something

vivek jasele - February 20, 2014

It is seriously inspired for the aspirants who r working in different govt and private jobs. i m also one of them who simlataneosly pre for ias 2014.i m trying to give out of my best at my level best .thanx for supporting us ,some time we feel panic and gets nervous.

Paras - March 5, 2014

I felt this article Extremely helpful to me b’coz I have just changed my career role from Police Constable to a private sector job due to undefined work schedule in previous job.

Keep writing likewise articles to inspire working professionals.

Many more thanks to you !!

    IAS Kracker - March 9, 2014

    You’re welcome Paras!

Uday - May 14, 2014

Hi sir

Could you please tell me is it possible to do preparation for IAS while working.

I am textile engineer I am thinking about preparation of IAS so please can you

help me??

Sujit - June 17, 2014

Hi Admin,
I am working person and preparing for Indian forest services
This time there is a prelims for this exam and have less time period for the preparation that’s why i got jumbled how to prepare for the prelims.

Please help me in this regard

Gajanand kumar singh - July 18, 2014

Dear sir,i m working in Bank of India as a PO.I m a simple graduate with History hons can i prepare for IAS & can i become an IAS ?

Gajanand kumar singh - July 18, 2014

Dear sir
I m working in Bank of india as a PO. Before joining BOI i was working in SBI as an Assistant. i m a simple graduate student can i prepare for IAS & can i become an IAS ?

Mohammed Ghouse - August 30, 2014

Dear Sir,
I’m 28 years old. Working in govt organisation as engineer, Can I start preparing now for upsc & get through it.

supriya - June 9, 2016

i have completed my degree 1st year of distance and my aim is ias . I am thinking to discontinue my distance degrre after inter and thinking to write degree distance mode after 10th to enter into prelims by early age . is it correct. plz give me suggestions

Pratik - May 19, 2017

Hello, Thank you for the useful information. I have a question regarding optional subjects. Can I choose Geography and Geology for Main Examination? Or is there some restriction to it?

Dhann - September 21, 2017

Thanks for sharing your insights for working people, to be frank is really difficult to prepare while working but not impossible

Amritanshu Semalti - December 5, 2018

Thanks for sharing. I am preparing for IAS exams.

    IAS Kracker - December 31, 2018

    I am glad you found it useful.


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