How to Prepare for IAS Without Coaching

UPSC preparation without coaching

Millions of people wish to become an IAS officer and many enroll for coaching to crack the IAS exam. But the question is, “can you prepare for IAS without coaching?” After all, not everyone can afford expensive coaching classes for UPSC preparation.

But, do not despair as you can prepare for the IAS exam without coaching. In this post, I will share useful tips and strategies to follow to crack the UPSC exam without coaching.

Let’s start.

#1: Understand the IAS exam pattern and syllabus

Before you start your actual UPSC preparation, you should understand the IAS exam pattern thoroughly. If you are aware of the pattern and the syllabus, you will know which topics to prepare and which ones to ignore. You can also prepare an effective IAS preparation strategy once you know the IAS syllabus like the back of your hand.

I strongly suggest that you get a good IAS planner that contains the complete UPSC syllabus and strategies to prepare for the IAS exam.

#2: Refer to the previous year’s solved papers

While preparing for IAS without coaching, you should constantly refer to the previous year’s solved papers to know the current trends of the IAS exam.

Also, once you know the topics on which more questions are asked in the UPSC prelims and mains, you can focus more on these topics rather than trying to cover all topics.

Since you are not taking coaching, you should test yourself constantly whether you can crack the previous year’s UPSC papers without external guidance or not.

How to use the solved papers for your IAS preparation?

You should refer the topic-wise solved papers before you prepare any UPSC prelims or mains topic. Let’s say, you wish to prepare Fundamental Rights in Indian Polity.

Then you should first refer the previous 5 years topic-wise questions on Fundamental Rights to know the type of questions that are asked from this polity topic.

After this, you should prepare the fundamental rights topic. Once you have done this, go back to the solved papers and try to answer the questions on fundamental rights.

Are you able to answer all the questions or did you miss out on something? Try to cover all the sub-topics that you couldn’t answer correctly.

For more details on this preparation strategy, read this post.

#3: Read the right books for IAS preparation

Yes, I know that you want to prepare for UPSC without coaching. But, for this, you need to read the right books for IAS.

Start with the NCERT’s

NCERT’s are the basic books you should read when you start preparing for UPSC, with or without coaching. But, you do not need to read every NCERT textbook that is published.

In fact, you should be selective and read these recommended NCERT’s for the IAS exam.

Then read the recommended books for UPSC preparation

Once you have read the NCERT textbooks, you should read the standard books for IAS exam.

Of course, you do not have to follow a linear pattern where you first read all the important NCERTs and then read the standard reference books. Rather, you should combine the reading of NCERTs and the reference books.

You can first read the NCERT on a particular subject, let’s say, Modern Indian history. Then you should follow up with Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence or Spectrum’s Brief History of Modern India.

Further, I will strongly advise you to read a good reference book like TME’s General Studies manual since a GS manual includes information on all the subjects of Prelims at one place.

So, if you are unable to find information on a particular topic in a standard reference book, you can always look up the GS manual for the information.

Refer the printed notes for UPSC preparation

Even if your goal is to crack the UPSC civil services exam without coaching, you should not underestimate the importance and value of printed coaching notes.

Fortunately, you do not need to join a coaching class to get their notes. UPSC preparation notes are easily available online at the click of a button.

These coaching notes are prepared by subject experts and comprise information from multiple books in easy to understand language.

Therefore, even if you do not intend to attend coaching for IAS preparation, you should definitely consider getting printed UPSC notes to prepare much more effectively for the IAS exam.

#4 Prepare a preparation time-table and stick to it

I cannot stress this point enough. If you plan to prepare for UPSC on your own, without any external guidance, you should prepare a daily-preparation time table and prepare according to this time-table religiously.

Go through this detailed guide on preparing a time-table for IAS preparation.

Since you are preparing for IAS without coaching, you should allocate time slots for your preparation and make a daily routine. You should then stick to this routine no matter what.

Let me explain this with the help of an example. Let’s say you decide to prepare one topic of prelims and one mains topic daily. Next, you should allot time-slots for these topics.

You can prepare the prelims topic for 3 hours before lunch and post-lunch, you can focus on the mains topic. And while you are doing this, don’t skip your newspaper reading.

#5: Attempt mock test regularly

Is reading the right books and notes adequate to crack UPSC without coaching? Hardly.

You should attempt mock tests regularly to test your preparation. Otherwise, you will be shooting in the dark and will be unable to identify your weak spots before the prelims and mains exam.

Also, the UPSC exam is dynamic. The question pattern and trend are always changing. Unless you attempt practice tests, you will not know about the latest trend of questions in the prelims and mains question papers.

You can start with some free online mock tests and then enroll for practice tests offered by reputed institutes after you have covered the entire syllabus at least once.

Further steps…

Congratulations. You are on your way to cracking the UPSC exam without coaching. But don’t just stop here. Refer these useful guides to prepare for IAS exam effectively.

Also, leave your feedback in the comments below if you found this guide useful. You can also ask your questions about preparing for IAS without coaching and we will do our best to answer them.

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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.


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